Saturday, 9 January 2021

NURSES STRIKE CALLED OFF

HUNDREDS of Harare and Bulawayo nurses, who went on strike on Thursday, resumed their duties yesterday after government provided the personal protective equipment (PPE) they were demanding.

On Thursday, nurses at major public hospitals demonstrated against being forced to go to work without PPE, arguing that they were being exposed to highly infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Enoch Dongo yesterday told NewsDay Weekender that government had taken heed of their concerns and vowed to provide PPE.

Nurses at Sally Mugabe Hospital (formerly Harare Central) in Harare withdrew their services after some of their colleagues and other patients tested positive for COVID-19.

Government also gave in to the nurses’ demand for flexible working hours which will see a limited number of staff reporting for duty at any given time.

“Authorities agreed to draft another duty roster with fewer health workers at any given time which will be effective starting Monday  next week,” Dongo said. “This will result in nurses decongesting the health institutions. Also, it helps the number of nurses that will be exposed to the deadly virus at any given time.

“Most importantly, government is not in a capacity to provide enough PPE if all nurses report for duty at once, but if we revert back to the flexible working hours, government will be able to provide the required PPE to all the fewer nurses who will be on duty,” said.

Dongo added that government should address the plight of health workers with urgency as nurses were turning out to be carriers of the virus which was detrimental to all other government efforts in containing the virus.

“There is a situation where patients come to hospital for treatment on other diseases, but they go back to their homes with the virus after contracting it from the health workers attending to them,” he said.

Government last year cancelled the flexible working conditions where nurses work for 40 hours in three days and directed that all nurses work the same 40 hours over seven days.

An application by Zina which seeks to stop government from enacting that directive is still pending at the High Court. Newsday

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