BY PHYLLIS MBANJE
NURSES unions have hailed their members for playing a pivotal role in the country’s health delivery system, especially during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, although authorities have not appreciated their efforts.
The Zimbabwe Urban, Rural Council of Nurses Union (ZURCNU) and the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) yesterday told NewsDay that as a result of their work, thousands of nurses got infected by the respiratory virus, while others succumbed to the deadly disease.
Their statement comes at a time when the world today celebrates International Nurses Day, while May 6 to May 12 is Nurses’ Week.
They said despite their work, their welfare and conditions of service continued to deteriorate.
Zina president Enock Dongo said: “Nurses have selflessly carried out their duties in the face of a dreadful disease and that is remarkable. We want to celebrate their bravery for the hard work despite the glaring lack of recognition.”
He said chief among several challenges that they faced while caring for COVID-19 patients was lack of adequate personal protective equipment.
Dondo added: “From the clinics right up to central level, nurses are the first port of call for patients. Successful management of COVID-19 was executed by nurses and even now the ongoing vaccination is being driven by these cadres.
“However, nurses are not even considered for key positions in the (Health) ministry and will remain on the periphery.”
ZURCNU president Simbarashe Tafirenyika said nurses had intended to launch a movement today to celebrate Nurses’ Day, but their plans were shelved due to COVID-19 safety concerns.
“We are appealing to stakeholders to help in making this day a future celebration, where we will recognise the nurses who work beyond their normal working hours and go beyond in saving lives,” he said.
Tafirenyika said the day would also present an opportunity for the nurses to share testimonies to encourage and motivate each other. He, however, said it was saddening that their salaries were not commensurate with their roles and many were wallowing in
“We have cases of retired nurses who can no longer afford healthcare when they need it. Some have been denied entry in hospitals, while others eventually died without ever getting help. That is disappointing as they would have toiled for years saving lives,” he said.
The ZURCNU president called on officials to look into the issue of the welfare of nurses and the staffing challenges that they faced.
“Council nurses are also leaving in droves to take up positions abroad where they are recognised and paid well. Nurses’ plight has been an eyesore for years and the perpetual industrial actions are an indication of how terrible their situation is. Their absence was felt when they downed tools in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals and clinics were left paralysed and patients suffered greatly,” Tafirenyika said.
- Follow Phyllis on Twitter @pmbanje