Source: Zimbabwe needs 10 000 nurses to remain afloat – Sunday News September 4, 2016
ZIMBABWE needs to employ an additional 10 000 nurses at all the country’s hospitals if the health institutions are to operate at optimal capacity, an official has said.
In an interview on the sidelines of a public review meeting in Harare last week, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Dr Gerald Gwinji said nurses were critical in the health sector.
“When we made our estimates in terms of burden of disease and gaps that we have we need close to 10 000 new nurses in our institutions. Care has become very intense and nursing is a one profession that needs to be complemented by the nurses,” he said.
Dr Gwinji revealed that the establishment that is being used was done in 1980 and has not been reviewed despite the growing population and the demand that is being brought by HIV and Aids.
“It hasn’t been revised, disease burden has increased and the population of Zimbabwe has grown greatly over the past three decades which does not tally with the establishment,” he said.
However, he noted that the Government has improved on health delivery over the years.
“We have since 1980 built new hospitals, clinics and many other facilities we are spreading ourselves thinner and thinner in terms of nursing staff. So an additional 10 000 nurses is welcome and we have the capacity to train them too,” said Dr Gwinji.
It is anticipated that the revising upwards of the nurses establishment will see thousands of nurses also benefiting as some have not being employed after Government froze recruitment. An estimated 3 500 nurses are unemployed in Zimbabwe.
Dr Gwinji said the ideal nurse to patient ratio in Zimbabwe was one nurse per every four patients but at the moment it was one nurse to 15 patients, a situation that is compromising the quality of health care to patients. The country is also in need of a number of midwives to reduce maternal related complications and mortality.
According to United Nations Fund for Population Activities, midwives assist in curbing almost 90 percent of maternal deaths.
In Zimbabwe statistics show that an average of 610 women die each year from maternal related complications.
Commenting on cases of negligence at hospitals being reported in the media, the Permanent Secretary said mistakes do happen.
“There are mistakes and oversights that happen in this profession and there is a way of dealing with those people. We promptly respond to issues that border on negligence and dereliction of duty in the particular cases. But our nurses are highly trained who are sellable all over but we also don’t condone such practices and glitches on duty,” he said.
In Zimbabwe the shortage of nursing staff is particularly dire in rural institutions where very few nurses are manning hospitals and clinics and the workload is overwhelming.