GOVERNMENT has increased practicing certificate fees for nurses by 150% to US$50, causing an uproar among health professionals.
The practicing certificates determine whether a health worker is qualified in the country, and is renewed every year.
The development comes at a time when the country has been experiencing mass exodus of health personnel due to poor working conditions.
In a circular dated February 10, 2023, Nurses Council of Zimbabwe registrar Mercy Chaka said the fee could also be paid in local currency at the prevailing official rate.
“Certificates for good standing and confirmation letters are to be paid in USD only. Registration and re-registration fees US$50; transfer to admin register US$50; application for private clinic US$500; application for certificate for good standing US$300, application for confirmation letter US$300,” the circular read.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said the fees were beyond the reach of the majority of poorly-paid nurses.
“If they don’t pay the practice licenses, it means they no longer have a valid practicing certificate. A lot of nurses will not afford to pay for that certificate. If one fails, they are not allowed to practice as a nurse. There are penalties when you also fail to pay on time. What it means is that there is no justification at all costs. It demotivates the already demotivated health workers,” Dongo said.
“There is nowhere in this economy where one can afford that amount from $20 to $50 which is more than 150% increase. They started by increasing the letter for good standing from US$150 to US$300 as a way to block nurses who wanted to go outside the country to look for greener pastures.”
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He accused the Nurses Council Board of frustrating health workers.
“The Nurses Council Board was established by an Act of Parliament which stipulates that the board must be controlled by the nurses themselves. Unfortunately, the Nurses Council Board was illegally appointed by the Minister of Health without due processes followed.”
Meanwhile, the United Kingdom (UK) administration has availed £15 million to facilitate the recruitment of international health and social care workers, Zimbabweans included.
In a recent communication, the UK said it had extended the recruitment of health and social care employees to 2024.
Many Zimbabweans have resorted to undertaking nurse aid courses to ensure they are eligible for recruitment as adult social care workers in the UK and other European countries.