VIDEO: UBH nurses in demo over drug shortages
Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
NURSES at the United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) yesterday went on strike protesting against a shortage of drugs and other medical sundries.
They also accused top officials of mismanaging the institution.
The strike, which started in the morning, ended after lunch following a resolution of the impasse by the hospital’s management and nurses.
Around 9AM, scores of placard waving nurses went around the hospital denouncing poor services.
They argued that it was pointless for them to be in the hospital wards with angry patients who were not receiving treatment.
The nurses sang and danced as they demanded to be addressed by the hospital management led by chief executive officer, Mrs Nonhlanhla Ndlovu.
They sat outside the administration block as their representatives engaged management.
The nurses said their protest was not driven by malice but was a plea that theirs and the patients’ concerns should be addressed urgently.
In an interview, UBH Zimbabwe Nurses’ Association (ZINA) chairperson Mr Anthony Majongosi said it did not make sense that patients were paying for treatment that they are not receiving.
“We’ve decided to embark on this action because hospital authorities are not buying hospital equipment which is needed for patients. There are a lot of things needed by patients from the hospital. We need syringes, needles among other things and all these things are in short supply in the hospital because of mismanagement of funds. We are saying we can’t work without those resources,” said Mr Majongosi.
He said nurses suspected that the operation of a private pharmacy was contributing to the hospital’s failure to equip its pharmacy with drugs so that patients buy from it.
Mr Majongosi said nurses are forced to improvise in providing services to their clients which is not healthy for the patients.
He said the nurses have given management up to Friday to equip the hospital, failure to that they will strike again.
“If they do not improve the situation on Friday we are going to further down our tools until they buy the necessary resources for the smooth operation of the hospital,” Mr Majongosi said.
UBH CEO Mrs Ndlovu said management has explained to the nurses the challenges facing the hospital.
She said the country’s economic situation is crippling the hospital’s operations with patients owing $18 million.
“We had a meeting with them and we resolved the concerns; all the people are now back at work. The issues they were raising, I think they are the same problems affecting the economy as far as resource constraints are concerned. We are not always able to buy everything that they require,” said Mrs Ndlovu.
“Some of the issues are that sometimes when we give an order to a supplier, they say they are failing to supply because they do not have the foreign currency,” she said.
Mrs Ndlovu said UBH is not the only public institution that has a private pharmacy and these pharmacies were established for the patients’ convenience.
She said it saved patients from travelling long distances to buy medication that was not readily available at the hospital.