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Nursing graduates relieved to be in employment

GUGULETHU Moyo of Bulawayo could not believe it when she saw a screaming newspaper headline stating that government had lifted a ban on recruiting graduate nurses.
She had to phone her colleagues to confirm whether what she was reading was indeed true.

BY MUSA DUBE

The 26-year-old nurse is among thousands of graduate nurses who failed to get jobs after government froze recruitment in 2010, citing budgetary constraints.

The Finance ministry had said the recruitment of more nurses was unsustainable as it gobbled almost 73% of the national allocation to the health ministry.

Despite the freeze, the country continued to churn out at least 1 500 nurses from its training schools each year.

But Moyo was last week over the moon after finally landing a job as a nurse after government lifted the ban early this year.

“The long wait is over,” said Moyo, who said she had been deployed to work at a clinic in Matabeleland South. “I can’t believe that I have found a job after such a long wait.”

Moyo qualified as a nurse three years ago.

Since the lifting of the ban, offices of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in Bulawayo have been swarmed with several nursing graduates seeking the elusive employment contract.

Another nurse, Rachel Khumalo said she had lost hope of getting employed as a nurse. Out of desperation, she had taken up a job as a shopkeeper at a local Chinese shop in Bulawayo.

“Some of us were now hopeless, we didn’t think we would ever work as nurses,” said Khumalo. “Imagine I had to work as a shopkeeper despite being a qualified nurse.”

The government announced in March this year that it was unfreezing over 2 000 posts for registered general nurses (RGN) around the country.

Most of the posts fell vacant due to deaths, retirement and resignation as nurses sought greener pastures outside the country.

According to the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Henry Madzorera, his ministry was going to fill in all the vacant posts.

“What we are doing now is filling these vacancies with our trained, unemployed RGNs who qualified a long time ago,” he said. “We start with those who qualified in 2009, 2010, 2011 before we come to those who qualified in 2012.”

At least 1 800 qualified registered general nurses have so far been recruited in public health institutions since early this year.

Health experts had warned that the move to freeze posts in the health sector would result in Zimbabwe failing to meet three of the Millennium Development Goals that address health issues such as reduction of child mortality, maternal health and combating HIV and Aids and Malaria by 2015.

recruitment will improve service delivery

The job freeze policy, which was effected in 2010, had also affected the health delivery system amid revelation that most hospitals and clinics were now run by students.

Mpilo General Hospital clinical director, Wedu Ndebele said the freeze on nurse recruitment had put the burden on the few staff that were running health institutions around the country.

“If someone leaves the job for greener pastures, we have been unable to recruit and replace them because of the freeze. If you go to Mpilo, UBH or Ingutsheni during the night you will find only one qualified nurse being assisted by a few students working in one ward with over 40 or 50 patients,” Ndebele said recently, just before the lifting of the ban.

Mpilo and UBH serve as the major referral health centres for hospitals in the country’s southern Region that encompasses such areas as Masvingo, Gweru, Victoria Falls, Gokwe and Beitbridge.

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