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Job action will not end well for health workers – Zimbabwe Independent

Health workers are exposed to work place dangers as they are inadequately equipped

WHEN Rumbidzai, a nurse at a local public hospital, gets to work, she does a round of the wards to make patients’ beds and change their linens. But sometimes she cannot swap used linens for fresh ones.

There are not enough. Instead, she has to leave the patients lying on their soiled linens.

Every day she sees patients groaning in pain without family or friends to buy them their prescribed medications, she says. These scenes are emotionally draining.

“At times, I even hesitate to go to work,” says Rumbidzai, who wanted to use only her first name for fear of retribution. “When your alarm rings each day, you become timid. Instead of being happy to go to work, you get depressed.”

Rumbidzai says she would strike for a better salary and improved working conditions. But that is no longer a possibility for her and others working in public hospitals without enough resources.

In January, the Zimbabwean government, through an amendment of the Health Service Act, banned public health care workers from striking for more than 72 hours.

Strikers face disciplinary action, while organisers of such strikes can face imprisonment for up to six months, a fine or both. Health care professionals say the amendment violates their rights and will demoralise health care workers and hasten their exodus from Zimbabwe.

Before the amendment, health care workers’ right to strike was protected under the Zimbabwean Constitution if they followed the procedures outlined in the Labour Act, such as giving an employer 14 days’ written notice.

Now health care workers are classified as essential service workers, like workers in the security forces such as the police, military and prison services. Essential service workers are not permitted to go on industrial action.

The Health Service Commission, which oversees health care workers, did not respond to requests for comment on how the amendment affects health care workers’ rights.

Rumbidzai says the government believes nurses strike only about salaries but that is not the case.

“Our working conditions are dire. If you give a patient a prescription to buy the required things, some are unable to buy. In such a situation, I am told to keep quiet,” Rumbidzai says.

But not being able to protest her remuneration does worry her.

“If I am to give you my basic salary today, you will not be able to purchase even a shoe rack in a furniture shop,” Rumbidzai says.

Douglas Chikobvu, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union, says basic salaries for nurses range from ZW$35 000 to ZW$50 000 Zimbabwean dollars (about US$28 to US$39 a month).

They also receive monthly allowances of up to ZW$360 000 (about US$291) to supplement their income and pay for necessities, such as uniforms and transportation, and an additional US$200 that is given to all civil servants.

Rumbidzai says she worries about her salary because it will affect her pension payments when she retires.

According to a 2018 article published in Global Health Action, an international global health research journal, the health care system in Zimbabwe has been deteriorating, especially since the 2000s because of the country’s economic collapse.

Public health institutions have struggled with obsolete infrastructure as well as drug and medical supply shortages. Inflation eroded the value of the local currency, and salaries of health workers were not spared.

Many have left their jobs, with some migrating to other countries in search of better opportunities.

In a written response, Tryfine Rachel Dzvukutu, Health Service Commission deputy general manager of public relations, says as of the end of December, more than 1 700 public hospital health care workers had left the service in 2022.

In 2021, more than 2 600 health professionals left public health service, according to the commission’s data.

Rumbidzai says with this law, disgruntled health care workers will not put in any effort to serve patients. Patients will suffer because no one will provide them with the care they need, she says.

“Sometimes people complain that nurses are mean, but in some instances, it is because of depression and exhaustion,” says Rumbidzai.

“People do not really understand what we go through on each day.”

Rumbidzai says her hospital no longer has adequate nursing staff.

“For us who still remain, the burnout is unbearable,” she says.

Zimbabwe requires 81 517 health care workers to meet population needs, but as of September 2022, the country had 74 298, Dzvukutu says.

 The Health Service Commission did not clarify how it calculates these numbers or how the current number of health care workers does not reach the requirement.

According to a 2022 research article published by the Journal of Asian and African Studies, medical professionals, including junior and senior doctors, went on strike in 2018 and 2019.

The nurses’ strike lasted five days while the junior doctors and medical graduates held out for 30, according to a 2019 article published in the Bulletin of the World Health Organisation.

Norman Matara, secretary general for the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights, says that the passing of laws, such as the recent amendment to the Health Service Act hastens the exodus of health workers.

“The law is a draconian law,” Matara says. “We currently have a crisis of health worker migration, and passing laws like this will fuel migration, and the crisis will worsen.”

Strikes have been a recurring issue since the late 1980s. According to the 2022 study, public sector workers, including health care workers and teachers, engaged in prolonged labour strikes in 1996.

Those strikes continued into 1997 and throughout the 2000s. It was only between 2009 and 2013 during the inclusive government, a power-sharing government made up of the major political parties, that health workers did not strike because they were receiving their salaries in US dollars, Matara says. Strikes began again after 2013.

In 2018, the government fired about 16 000 nurses, who had gone on strike for almost a week over poor remuneration. In 2019, at least 448 doctors were dismissed for not reporting to work during a strike, but they were later admitted back into service.

 Matara says there are not many options because the law has already been enacted.

“We are still trying to gather as associations to see how best we can respond to this, but what we know is most people have given up,” he says.

He adds that most people in his sector are now focusing on how they can improve their own lives outside the public health service.

Like Matara, Shingai Nyaguse-Chiurunge, president of the Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association, says making industrial action punishable with jail hurts workers.

“This will undermine workers’ negotiations and may negatively impact overall morale,” says Nyaguse-Chiurunge.

Daniel Molokele, a member of Parliament for Hwange Central who sits in the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child Care, says the changes to the law have been unpopular with the public and Parliament.

The bill was rejected after public hearings.

The committee recommended that the minister of health and child care start over.

“But the minister defied the committee — went ahead and bulldozed the law,” he says.

Molokele says he hopes the law will be amended and will frame the issue as a labour matter rather than a national security matter, allowing health care professionals to be recognised as employees of the state with labour rights.

Nurse Rumbidzai says her frustrations have left her future in public service uncertain.

“I don’t have plans to leave the country, but if I get an opportunity at a non-governmental organisation within Zimbabwe, I will leave the public service,” says Rumbidzai.

Masiyiwa is a Global Press Journal reporter based in Harare, Zimbabwe.

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UK: Zim health and social care Indaba set for Northampton … – New

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By Staff Reporter

ZIMBABWEAN professionals and businesses in the UK’s growing health and social care sector will have an opportunity to network with other players in the industry and learn new trends when they take part in the Health and Social Care Meet and Greet in Northampton on June 17.

The event organised by WS Marketing and Golden Careers Management Ltd will be held at Holiday Inn Rugby Northampton M1 and hosted by presenter Kevin Ncube.

Diaspora Insurance is one of the event’s key partners and will be showcasing their services on the side-lines of the high profile indaba.

Diaspora Insurance specialises in crafting and distributing insurance and risk management solutions tailored to meet diasporans’ needs.


In an interview with, organiser Wilson Mathe said the upcoming Meet and Greet is  aimed at promoting collaboration among health and social care providers in the UK.

“Until all our friends who are in the Health and Social Care Industry in UK get a fair share of the £27 billion plus, we will continue to Meet and Greet and share ideas,” Mathe said.

“Sometimes your break through is just around the corner. That one person at this event may change your entire life. In order to succeed in this industry, you need to associate with the correct people, create new networks, support those in need and deliver whenever possible.

He added: “This is a one of a kind event, aiming at those that may need further support or guidance. Those who are coming, bring your business cards. Bring your company’s marketing material. Be prepared to at least share your journey so far. We create new networking and business opportunities. We will share Healthcare  industry information that may be beneficial to everyone.”

Some of topics which will be discussed during the Meet and Greet event include:

  • CQC and Ofsted Registration process / cash flow projections
  • How to get clients and tenders
  • Immigration and Sponsor license
  • Semi-independent living
  • Complex care
  • What’s in the business of care
  • Women in business
  • Professionalism, boundaries and relationships
  • Business ethics and experience

Headline speakers and resource persons at the Northampton event include Chengetayi Shoko from NHS, managing director of Ultra Healthcare and Ultra Healthjobs Godfrey Mushandu, Pardon Tapfumaneyi of PT Law and Associates, the CEO of Tulia Group Rumbidzai Bvunzawabaya, Gelly Manzira of Valour Healthcare, Simon Chinya of Blur Healthcare Associates, Joyce Kapesa of Joyous Consultancy, as well as the directors of Lime Healthcare.

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UK targets Zimbabwe’s science, maths teachers – Bulawayo24 News

Zimbabwean teachers are in the front row following a call by the United Kingdom for “the very best” overseas teachers to apply for vacancies, sweetened by a £10,000 relocation fee.

The UK is trialling recruiting overseas teachers to fill vacancies, and The Times reports that teachers from Zimbabwe, Ghana, India, Singapore, Jamaica, Nigeria and South Africa are set to benefit as they are considered to have historical education links to Britain.

The UK’s Department for Education has begun to offer “international relocation payments” to overseas physics and language teachers to cover visa and moving expenses.

Officials expect between 300 and 400 teachers to be recruited for the start of the next academic year in September. If the trial is successful, hundreds of maths, science and language teachers are expected to be brought in through this route in the next academic year.

The teachers must have a degree, recognised teacher-training qualifications, at least a year’s experience and the ability to speak English to undergraduate level.

Under current rules, teachers are granted visas to work in Britain if they have a job offer and earn a minimum salary based on their role – usually at least £27,000.

The UK’s Department for Education told the Times: “In March we launched a one-year trial offering no more than 400 of the very best teachers from around the world the opportunity to teach in our schools.

“This is one of many options we are exploring to ensure there is an excellent teacher for every child.”

It comes as teacher numbers across the UK are beginning to fall, with fewer than half the targeted number of trainee secondary teachers due to start this autumn.

Subjects including biology, history, Classics and PE are the only ones on track to meet government targets, according the National Foundation for Educational Research.

An exodus of maths and science teachers would be a new blow to Zimbabwe which has lost thousands of health professionals to the UK in the last year.

New data shows a massive jump in health workers recruited from Zimbabwe between March 2022 and March 2023.

Between March 2021 and March 2022, 2,630 Zimbabwean health workers including doctors, nurses and nurse aides were granted UK visas. This jumped 562 percent between March 2022 and March 2023 as the UK welcomed 14,791 Zimbabwean health professionals.

Zimbabwe is only second to Nigeria, which lost 12,587 health professionals up from 5,009 between March 2021 and March 2022.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now included Nigeria and Zimbabwe in a list of 55 “red flagged” countries from which developed nations have been asked not to hire healthcare workers. The WHO says the red flagged countries have fragile health sectors and need human resources.

The African countries on the list are Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Vanuatu, and Zambia.

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Govt escalates drug and substance abuse fight; rehab centres for … – New

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By Staff Reporter

GOVERNMENT has upscaled the fight against drug and substance abuse with rehabilitation and psycho-social support centres for survivors soon to be established to ensure their full recovery.

So far, an out-patient rehab and psycho-social support centre has been opened in Harare and similar centres will be set up in other provinces.

Addressing journalists during the fifteenth post Cabinet briefing in Harare Tuesday, Acting Information Minister, Jenfan Muswere said the National Committee on Drug and Substance Abuse chaired by Defence Minister, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri had recommended appointment of a national coordinator to spearhead the response to the scourge in addition to setting up rehabilitation centres countrywide.

“Going forward, a National Coordinator will be appointed to coordinate policies and activities on drug and substance abuse.

“Government will establish rehabilitation and psycho-social support centres for drug and substance abuse survivors in order to ensure full rehabilitation and recovery,” said Muswere.


Cabinet established the National Committee on Drug and Substance Abuse on April 19, 2023 in order to heighten the battle against supply of illicit drug and substance abuse, mostly blamed on rich and politically-connected individuals.

“The nation is being informed that progress recorded to date includes the following: drugs and substances worth Z$438 654 692 were intercepted under Operation Clean-Up Zimbabwe with 6 156 accused persons being arrested and prosecuted across the country.”

Muswere said assessment visits were made to ports of entry and exits to ascertain illegal drug and substance trafficking, while visits to mental health institutions and rehabs were also done to ascertain the impact of the menace.

“As a way forward, a National Plan of Action has since been adopted. Its key components include that the law enforcement units specialised in drug and substance abuse response be decentralised coupled with equipping the Zimbabwe Republic Police’s Forensic Laboratories by the end of the second quarter.

“… that seamless sub-national structures and family structures to heighten the response to the drug and substance abuse fight be established by end of

third quarter of 2023 and that multi-sectoral awareness campaigns be conducted to reduce the demand for drugs with religious leaders playing an active role in fighting the scourge through demand reduction.”

Private sector players were also urged to undertake Corporate Social Investment to deal with the drug problem.

The minister reiterated legal frameworks and policies on drug and substance abuse need urgent review and updating.

He said the Cabinet warned all those selling liquor without the requisite licences to desist from doing so while law enforcement agents were jerked to take action against those in defiance of statutes.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to launch the Nation Action Plan on Drug and Substance Abuse on a date to be advised.

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