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UBH nurses protest poor working conditions

UNITED Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) nurses downed tools yesterday citing lack of stationery, needles and drugs, among other medical basics at the health institution.

The Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (Zina) members vowed to continue with their work stoppage until UBH authorities addressed the sad state of affairs, which was putting patients’ lives at risk and making their work difficult.

The strike action follows a similar job boycott by Chitungizwa Central Hospital staff last week over the shortage of
resources.

The UBH nurses accused management of not prioritising the provision of medical necessities at the institution, claiming there was rampant corruption and maladministration.

“We need resources to make sure our patients receive the quality service they deserve, otherwise we are not going back to work. There is virtually nothing in the wards and we are tired of improvising everything as we try to provide health care services,” UBH Zina chairperson Anthony Majongosi said.

“We cannot continue improvising everything while the hospital is supposed to buy resources with revenue collected from patients. We feel that the money paid by patients could be used to make sure the patients get quality service.”
The protesting nurses, carrying banners calling for the improvement of health care services, also forced the closure of a private pharmacy at the institution.

The nurses alleged UBH management was deliberately not buying drugs for the institution to force patients to buy from the private pharmacy said to be owned by some board members.

Zina on Monday wrote to UBH chief executive officer Nonhlanhla Ndlovu notifying her of their indefinite strike action.

“There is no stationery, no gloves, no needles, no syringes and the drugs in our hospital pharmacy, but people can buy them at a private pharmacy at our hospital. Our patients are buying everything despite paying hospital bills; they buy sundries for theatre despite paying theatre fees. We have emergencies like ruptured uterus, but we have to ask relatives to go and buy sundries, risking the patient’s life,” the letter, signed by Majongosi, read.

“As nurses, we are concerned about our patients, therefore, we have passed resolutions that we will be withdrawing our services as from December 12 until the hospital provides us with resources to use. The private pharmacy at the hospital must be closed as it seems our hospital pharmacy is no longer ordering enough drugs to give the private pharmacy more customers.”
Contacted for comment, Ndlovu said: “We had a meeting with the nurses on the issues they have raised. We made them aware of the challenges we face as UBH, challenges we all know are related to the economy, but we have resolved the issue, agreed on the way forward and they are now back at work.”

The country’s health delivery sector is experiencing a myriad of challenges such as shortages of drugs after years of underfunding from Treasury.

Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa last week allocated $408 million to the health sector in his 2018 National Budget despite Health minister David Parirenyatwa’s demands for over $1 billion.

NQOBANI NDLOVU AND SHARON SIBINDI- Newsday Zimbabwe
MISA Zimbabwe

MISAintern@misazim.org

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