Why Zimbabwe still needs its nurses despite high rates of unemployment

Nursing school aspirants in Zimbabwe have quite an interesting future to look forward to in terms of their career hopes and its present ties with an underlying uncertainty – they are being allowed to pursue their dreams but not necessarily being provided with a practical platform to do so. Two days ago, the Deputy Minister for Health and Child Care Aldrin Musiiwa announced to ‘nurses-in-waiting’ that training for them will still continue even though there has been a decline in employment opportunities for nursing graduates, since 2012.

Last week, Musiiwa argued in parliament that while it was unfortunate that freshly graduated nurses would have a hard time finding work with local health institutions, an interruption in the training process will drastically affect chances of the teaching staff – who would surely disperse upon shut down – resuming their duties when it was time to do so. This was in response to the suggestion of a parliamentary committee on health to shut down training schools for three years to allow unemployed nurses gain employment.

Nurses in Zimbabwe are faced with this predicament because of the government’s inability to include them on its payroll, as they cannot afford to do so. A situation made worse by poor budgeting on the part of Zimbabwe’s Treasury regarding the nursing sector. However, Musiiwa claims that the government truly needs these nurses and once the issue of funding has been resolved, nurses will see a bolstering of job opportunities for them. He also promised that a government plan is in place to export unemployed nurses to other countries which Zimbabwe will partner with.

Meanwhile, employed nurses in the East African nation are not having it easy at the moment. On February 26, Zimbabwean nurses in Mutare commenced a strike over salary payment which has not been called off yet. Due to the strike, many Zimbabweans in Mutare City and nearby Murambinda have been unable to access healthcare.

Last year, the Zimbabwean government gave a directive to the country’s 15 training institutions to reduce their students intake by 80 percent, based on the aforementioned challenges that it still faces in matching the numbers of nursing graduates to jobs.

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