Nduduzo Tshuma Senior Reporter—
ALMOST 4,000 trained nurses are unemployed with more graduates joining them every year, as the government cannot employ them all, Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Paul Chimedza has said. Speaking during question time in the National Assembly, Dr Chimedza said the government was only able to engage 680 nurses annually. He was responding to legislator Mabel Kaundikiza who wanted to know the government’s position on the jobless nurses.
“As you are aware, we had a government freeze on posts for nurses and all civil servants but the government freeze was recently lifted.
“So, at the end of the year, as per the establishment of the Ministry of Health and Child Care, we can only take in 680 nurses,” said Dr Chimedza.
“After the 680 nurses are taken in, the establishment is full but outside of that there are almost 4,000 who are on the streets. So, as a ministry, we have put in a proposal to increase the establishment.”
Dr Chimedza said the establishment had not been reviewed since 1980 for it to be able to respond and speak to the disease pattern of today and increased demand of a growing population.
“We have put in a proposal to the ministry of Finance and Economic Development to increase the establishment of the Ministry of Health and Child Care so that we can be able to absorb those nurses whom we really need in the healthcare system,” he said.
“Hopefully, if that is accepted by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development then we will be able to absorb the majority of nurses who are on the streets.”
Dr Chimedza said the ministry also realises that they might not get the proposal granted and was looking at other options.
“We have put plan B and rekindled the plan of having some of our nurses on government to government arrangement with other countries that require them so that we do not keep them on the streets,” he said.
“We get them employed but on a formal basis.”
Kaundikiza asked why government was advertising nurse training vacancies when there were no job opportunities.
“Training of nurses will continue. It is like, if a child goes for Grade One and does not find a job after completing Form 4, it does not mean that, that child ends there,” said Dr Chimedza.
“There are natural conditions in the system. Some retire, some die of natural causes, so we need to replace them. So, training, even though people are not getting fully absorbed, will continue. This is the policy of the ministry.”