Government hospitals now death traps – Parliament told; nurses say low wages, poor working conditions forcing them out of Zimbabwe

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By Anna Chibamu

HOSPITALS across the country have become death traps due to government’s failure to fund them, Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) officials have told Parliament.

This was revealed during a meeting with the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health Wednesday at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals.

The Zimbabwe Nurses Association (ZINA) representatives in Harare said concerns raised by public health nurses are ignored by the government and as a result most of them are leaving the country for greener pastures.

ZINA Harare province chairperson Lucas Sharara said their grievances include meagre remuneration and poor working conditions.

“Why do our leaders go to Borrowdale Trauma Centre for medical services leaving our hospitals such as Harare and Parirenyatwa respectively? The good thing is we all die in the end.

“It is better to be slaves somewhere if we can make a living than living under the current conditions.

“I cannot afford a car, house mortgage or anything, because of the RTGS salary,” Sharara said.

ZINA Harare province treasurer Allan Nyamupinga said due to the poor remuneration, he could no longer afford even his uniforms.

“ZINA has been trying to engage the employer but to no avail. Only two meetings had been held so far with the leadership of the new Republic’s Health ministry and this was only after protests by the nurses.

“We have written letters without getting any responses. Those representing us in the Nurses Council are not known to us.

“We cannot talk of allowances because they can be withdrawn anytime. Fees are pegged in USD whilst l am earning just $45000,” Nyamupinga said, almost in tears.

He begged the government to reconsider the retirement age so that the poorly paid nurses can go and find employment abroad.

A midwife from Mbuya Nehanda Maternity Hospital identified as Sister Mukudu said the situation at the institution was so dire that women were giving birth on floor-beds.

She added that the hospital designed to accommodate 30 expecting women was now forced to admit at least 70.

“Mbuya Nehanda is dilapidated. It is now too small for the huge numbers of women we receive. We need to have these hospitals extensions and renovations. We only have two beds for the entire hospital’s theatre.”