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Expecting Mothers Neglected as Nurses Go on Strike.

Expecting mothers from different suburbs in Harare are in dire straits following the withdrawal of labour by council nurses on Monday.

Mothers, mainly from the middle to low-income households, use council clinics for maternity services and childcare. Unfortunately, those who were due for delivery yesterday were shuttling from one clinic to another in search of functioning maternity facilities. 

 

Striking nurses have vowed to remain home citing incapacitation despite a warning by the Harare City Council that disciplinary action will be taken should they fail to report for work. Family, satellite and some polyclinics remained closed yesterday, with a few selected polyclinics assisting pregnant women.

The few maternity facilities open were overwhelmed with some expecting mothers resorting to sleeping on the floor as all beds were occupied. In separate interviews with The Herald yesterday, some pregnant women urged nurses and city fathers to amicably resolve their differences.

 

Mrs Renia Chiutsi of Kuwadzana 5 said the situation was unbearable for financially disadvantaged mothers who rely on public health facilities. “I was supposed to go to Harare Central Hospital for an operation because my pregnancy was overdue, but I could not go there because of the current doctors’ strike.

“I could not afford private maternity services either, where the doctors are charging at least US$250 or equivalent to induce delivery. So my last hope was the council facilities,” said Mrs Chiutsi, who gave birth to a baby girl on Monday evening.

 

“The whole evening (Monday) was busy. I think the sisters assisted more than 15 mothers to deliver and more women kept coming the whole night,” said Mrs Chiutsi. Mrs Elizabeth Bure from Rugare suburb said she almost gave birth on the floor. Mrs Bure said initially, she was turned away from Dzivarasekwa Clinic where she had registered to deliver.

She had to pay $50 to hire a commuter omnibus to take her to Kuwadzana Polyclinic. “The driver had charged me US$10, but I didn’t have the money. Out of pity and seeing that I was already in labour, he agreed to take me,” said Mrs Bure.

 

Harare City Council director for Health Services, Dr Prosper Chonzi yesterday said the situation was getting worse as more nurses joined the strike, which council has declared illegal.
An internal memo dated November 4, 2019, signed by Major Matthew Marara (Retired), the acting director for human capital, said nurses who fail to report for duty risk disciplinary action.

“It should be made known to the striking nurses that ZURCNWU (Zimbabwe Urban and Rural Council Nurses Workers Union) has no legal mandate to call for any job action,” said Major Marara (Rtd).

Contacted for comment, ZURCNWU president Mr Simbarashe Tafirenyika said their union had the legal standing to represent all nurses employed by local authorities.

 

He urged members to stay away from work until their grievances were addressed. The withdrawal of labour by nurses further compromises the delivery of healthcare services after doctors from central hospitals stopped reporting for work on September 3, citing incapacitation.

 

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