Zimbabwe Nurses Vow to Stay At Home Over Unpaid December Salaries

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HARARE – Health workers say they will not go back to work until they get their salaries since they do not have bus fares.

Zimbabwean riot policemen stand in front of doctors and nurses who are demonstrating over the deteriorating health system, outside Parirenyatwa group of hospitals in Harare, November 18, 2008.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwean riot policemen stand in front of doctors and nurses who are demonstrating over the deteriorating health system, outside Parirenyatwa group of hospitals in Harare, November 18, 2008. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

This comes after an outcry from thousands of treatment-seeking patients whose lives have been left in the hands of God after nurses and doctors failed to pitch up for work protesting the late payment of their December salaries.

The Daily News crew yesterday witnessed several patients still being turned away from State-run hospitals with the few health workers who were at work only attending to serious cases.

In an interview with the Daily News, Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) secretary-general Enock Dongo said “there is nothing normal about the situation”.

“Government had offered transport but we refused because there is more to our lives than just transport. Without salaries, nurses don’t have money to go to work, to pay rent and fees and fund their day-to-day needs,” said Dongo.

Dongo added that it was imperative that nurses have peace of mind if they are to give the best possible attention to patients.

“Psychologically, nurses cannot help a sick patient when they are demotivated, demoralised, never ever. It’s unfortunate that the poor citizens of Zimbabwe who rely on public hospitals are the ones suffering the most. Those who are relatives of the bigwigs can afford private care,” he said.

The Zina official revealed that a lot of health workers who are tenants are now living in fear of being evicted from their lodgings as they are yet to pay their rentals.

“Government has capacity to pay but they have misplaced priorities while bad governance and corruption are rampant.”

Zimbabwe Doctors Association president Fortune Nyamande said doctors were not happy with the manner government is treating them.

“You are aware that doctors are some of the few government employees who work throughout holidays, weekends and through the night.

“Sadly, the government has neglected health workers and it’s highly unfair. As it stands, we no longer have money to go to work. Doctors are eating one meal a day. It’s like we are back at college,” said Nyamande.

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