THE Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) has called on government to engage in talks with bodies representing Nursing staff before proceeding with the drastic action of terminating their employment.
In a statement in response to Vice President, retired General Constantine Chiwenga statement which announced the termination of employment for more thousands of nurses who participated in the industrial action, CWGH Executive director Itai Rusike said dialogue was the only way forward under the current situation.
“The dismissal of the nurses, which was surprisingly endorsed by the highest offices, clearly shows the new dispensation’s lack of tolerance, patience, negotiating and dialoguing skills.
“Labelling the strike “politically-motivated” when everyone can clearly see the naked causes of the job action points to insincerity and hypocrisy at its highest order. Empty promises, militant stance and piecemeal solutions will not address the causes; we need lasting solution because the health workforce is central to a proper health delivery system. Our leaders should not see political shadows where there are none,” said Rusike.
He added that the new political administration must be reminded that Zimbabweans, including the striking nurses, had high hopes of a better future when it took over the levers of power but now they are frustrated as they see their hopes varnish like morning due. Remember, the future of Zimbabwe depends on decisions you make today.
“CWGH feels that health worker grievances must be dealt with by the Health Services Board (HSB) and the Ministry of Health and Child Care (MoHCC). Why in the first place set up the HSB then fail to give it autonomous and adequate resources to be able address the worsening conditions of health workers as per regional standards?
“As it is, the Board is just draining the fiscus through fat monthly salaries, huge allowances and luxurious vehicles without executing its mandate. It is worrying that the Board does not have independent capacity to make decision that have a bearing on the welfare of health workers because the Health Services Act stipulates that any decision that has a bearing on the Consolidated Revenue Fund must be agreed upon with the Ministry of Finance.
“This actually renders any negotiations or agreements with the HSB meaningless and waste of time. We call upon the government to give HSB the power and resources it deserve for it to properly execute its mandate because at the moment it is a just a feeding trough.”
He also said the strike has a serious impact on the already strained health sector which does not have enough medical personnel, drugs and equipment.
“The absence of nurses in health institutions at a time there are frequent outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid and cholera as well as shortages of medicines of chronic illnesses means more deaths of ordinary Zimbabweans.
“The strike also comes at a time the country’s emergency services have been grounded due to poor funding from central government. In the interest of the suffering and dying patients, the CWGH calls upon the striking health workers and the government quickly ensure that normalcy returns in the country’s health institutions,” added Rusike.
He said the politicking and blame-gaming will not resuscitate the country’s broken and non-functional public health delivery system and only sincere dialogue will let us out of the current health dilemma.