By Anna Chibamu
HEALTH Deputy minister John Mangwiro was Wednesday forced to recruit youths in Budiriro and Mufakose to speed up the Covid-19 vaccination programmes as the shortage of nurses is stalling the process at the local council-run clinics.
Mangwiro was disappointed when he came face-to-face with long queues of residents in Harare’s high-density suburbs of Budiriro and Mufakose.
He was on a tour to assess how the government-sponsored Covid-19 vaccination programme was being carried out and was accompanied by United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) country representative Tajudeen Oyewale.
Some residents, who spoke to NewZimbabwe.com at the clinics, said they had been visiting the local health centres for three days, but were failing to get the jab because of shortages of nurses.
At Budiriro clinic, NewZimbabwe.com observed that only one nurse was serving the “jab seekers”. She would screen, capture details, inject and issue the vaccination cards.
“We have been here for the past three days and we are told to wait but nothing seems to be improving. The staff is not enough to vaccinate us. We appeal to the government to employ more staff so that we get vaccinated,” said one man in a queue.
One young woman asked Mangwiro if she could offer her services for free.
The deputy minister immediately intervened and asked if they were any more willing youths prepared to assist in the vaccination process.
“I have to make sure we resolve the crisis once and for all. We have several young people around who can volunteer to help out and make it easier for the few nurses that are here,” said Mangwiro.
Harare City Council health director Prosper Chonzi acknowledged the shortage of nurses due to financial resources crippling the council.
“As much as the council would want to recruit more staff, it is impossible because once you engage someone, the next thing the person wants is remuneration. Harare City Council is struggling to raise financial resources to pay its workers,” Chonzi said.
Meanwhile, Mangwiro warned all health institutions not to turn away people who have received vaccines elsewhere.
“There is no need for any clinic or outlet or hospital to turn away anybody saying there is no first or second Sinopharm or Sinovac dose. Anyone who visits a centre for vaccination must receive either a first or second dose of the vaccines available. You cannot tell them to go away.
“For example, anyone coming from as far as Kariba or Mutare to Mufakose Health Centre should be vaccinated. We have plenty of vaccines and as such, let us not turn away people.
“I understand there were little bottlenecks in these clinics. One is the shortage of staff, we have put in place young people who are on holidays to do data capturing while we leave the vaccination to be done by trained staff such as nurses. We want the queues we are seeing to go away and be a thing of the past. We want people to be saved,” Mangwiro added.