The Ministry of Health and Child Care has launched a probe into the alleged abuse of funds meant for nurses by senior officials in the ministry and further payments have since been stopped, the Minister, Dr David Parirenyatwa, said Monday.High-ranking officials in the health sector reportedly draw a combined $100 000 in monthly allowances for on-call and night duty which they do not undertake, while nurses who do the actual work get a paltry $3 per month each.
Nurses, through the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, have been refusing to work during the night since Monday last week demanding that anomalies in the payment of allowances for on-call and night duty be corrected.
Those allegedly taking the bulk of the allowances were directors in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, provincial medical directors and other senior health officials who do not perform night duties.
The money, which is administered and disbursed by the Health Services Board, comes from the $1,5 million provided by Government in this year’s national budget.
Speaking on the side-lines of the ongoing Aids Watch Africa (AWA) consultative experts meeting of the Commission of the African Union in Victoria Falls, Dr Parirenyatwa said investigations were being carried out in relation to allegations of the $100 000 monthly allowances which he described as unfair.
“We have already rectified that. It is true that there were people who should not be getting those allowances but that has been stopped because that is the money which is being discussed,” he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa said nurses from Harare Central Hospital, Chinhoyi Provincial Hospital and Chitungwiza Central Hospital were trying to influence others to go on strike despite “intense negotiations between Zina (Zimbabwe Nurses Association) and the Health Services Board.”
He urged Zina to negotiate in good faith with the Government.
“We don’t want deaths. We are losing children and the elderly because of such mischief. If there are grievances, let them be in good faith. I have ordered the Health Services Board to meet these three hospitals today after reading a story in the paper,” said the minister.
“It is not true that the three hospitals are the worst affected, the truth is that they are the only ones on strike and I have said the board should include Parirenyatwa Central Hospital because it is a referral hospital so that we find a way forward. They are meeting this afternoon and will brief me when I get to Harare.”
“We are very dismayed that there is very intense negotiations between the Health Services Board and the nurses association yet they continue to go on strike.
“They now want to influence the whole country to engage in the strike. We are aware that Zina includes key members from Chitungwiza and Harare Central hospitals and Chinhoyi General who are influencing others.
These are Mafa (Simangaliso who is Zina secretary-general), Mrs Smith (Regina who is Zina president) and Chipfurutse (Mugove, organising secretary).
“The strike is not throughout the country, but they want to intimidate others which is being irresponsible,” he said.