Patrick Chitumba Senior Reporter
THOUSANDS of nurses across the country are still unemployed even though the government recently announced the lifting of the freeze on recruitment of health workers. Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa told Chronicle on Thursday that it was now policy that the freezing of recruitment of nurses had been lifted adding that it was now up to the Public Service Commission to recruit nurses and fill vacant posts.
“The government lifted the freeze on nursing posts. In terms of policy there is no more freeze on nurse’s employment,” he said.
He said bureaucratic dynamics in the government were hindering the employment of nurses. “There is bureaucratic dynamics but in terms of policy it’s unfrozen. It’s now a matter of where the vacancies are and how each institution should recruit and how to distribute the nurses that are available to the health institutions,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
Last week scores of jobless nurses were seen milling around Mpilo Central Hospital looking for employment. Some of them said they graduated in 2011 and were still to secure employment. “We have been coming here and other health institutions looking for employment. We are told that the freeze was lifted but the institutions still maintain that there is a freeze. So we are really confused,” said one of the job seekers.
Last year, the Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Paul Chimedza told parliament that the job freeze had washed away the skills that the newly-trained nurses had acquired. “We are continuously engaging the Ministry of Finance so that these posts can be unfrozen, but probably, I would like to implore this August House to make a decision or enough noise about this issue so that we will have those posts unfrozen,” said Dr Chimedza.
“The problem is that when you train a nurse for three years and this nurse is put in the streets after using government money, they lose the skill and after three years they cannot be a nurse anymore and will need to be retrained,” he said.
Since 2010, Zimbabwe has failed to absorb graduating nurses into its health institutions regardless of staff shortages at most health centres. Last year, the government partially lifted the freeze but only absorbed 1,000 nurses. It is estimated that the country has more than 2,500 qualified nurses who are out of work.