Nurse training: Time to weed out corruption on recruitment

You hear of applicants who have gone for years trying their luck but without getting a single response.

The week came with sweet news for aspiring nurses in the country as the Health and Child Care ministry flighted adverts for the upcoming intake. Many people have passion for medicine and nursing but their dreams get shattered when they cannot get places to train.

You hear of applicants who have gone for years trying their luck but without getting a single response.

Yes, it is possible not to get a response considering the number of applications in the hands of the authorities. The number of places is limited with some schools of nursing recruiting less than 20 students while bigger institutions like Sally Mugabe School of Nursing enrol as many as 50 students per intake.

 I am sure the Health and Child Care ministry has put mechanisms in place to eliminate selection corruption this time.

Corruption is a disease that erodes the fabric of society and weakens the economy, leading to widespread poverty and suffering. We desire a culture of integrity and transparency at all levels of society. It is only through collective action that we can create a society that is free from the calamitous effects of corruption.

There are many government departments like the Vehicle Inspection Department where corruption is known to be rampant and the officers involved are known but no concrete action is being taken against them.

It was gut-wrenching to note that some officials were demanding in excess of US$1 000 from applicants for them to be considered. Allowing interviews to be done by local officials is a recipe for corruption and the Health ministry should second its officials to conduct the interviews with the assistance of local staff. The vulnerable members of society who cannot afford to pay kick-backs should be allowed to train as nurses as well.

Zambia has lately become a training hub for many Zimbabweans with many flocking to that country to train in nursing and medicine. The training fees are unbearable with fewer guardians or parents affording them. The entry requirements are not prohibitive in Zambia like in our country.

A few years ago the United Kingdom downgraded some degrees from the University of Zambia, a move which has sparked academic debate around the world. All students who train out of the country will have to write conversion exams in this country for them to be integrated into our system. Zimbabwe is revered for intensive and advanced training and that is the reason why first world countries are busy fishing out workers from the country. The level of brain drain is daunting, with loss of a skilled and experienced workforce.

There was debate about the relevance of mathematics on the Ordinary Level subjects required for one to enrol for nursing.

According to Statutory Instrument 245 of 2000, English and Science are the only compulsory subjects, Mathematics is not compulsory but was viewed as an added advantage in recruitment and selection. There is no doubt that English language is a must as most of the teaching is done in English.

Science is also a requirement because what is taught is mainly science and its branches which include anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, pathology and community medicine, among others.

Those without mathematics should not be discouraged from applying as they have equal opportunity to be selected for training. It does not mean that if one has no pass in mathematics, they are unable to calculate doses, count pills, administer drugs, dress wounds, connect drips or catheterise patients.

Zimbabwe has been a training ground for many years and it is time to ensure skills retention.

The mass exodus of healthcare workers should be checked as a matter of urgency if the country is to attain a solid health status for all by 2030.

Human capital development is one of the pillars for Vision 2030 where the country aims to be an upper-second-income economy with a gross national income per capita ranging from US$4 466 to US$13 846.

A strong health delivery system has six pillars adopted by the World Health Organisation in 2007 and these include service delivery, health workforce, health information systems, medicines, governance and financing.

For health equity and equality to be significant, health financing, health workforce, service delivery and medicines should be aligned properly and it becomes easy to achieve universal health coverage. Health and development are symbiotic in nature.

It is time to stem corruption. The recruitment and selection of student nurses should be fair!

  • Johannes Marisa is president of the Medical and Dental Private Practitioners Association of Zimbabwe. He writes here in his personal capacity.

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