Zimbabwean nurses faces de-registration

GABORONE – A number of local nurses, estimated in hundreds, are expected to be de-registered in the first quarter of 2010 following a benchmarking exercise silently being carried out by the Nursing and Midwifery Council of Botswana (NMCB).\r\n

A list of registered nurses is understood to have been handed to the Attorney General’s Chambers to advice on how they should be de-registered.

The NMCB met sometime mid December 2008 where it was agreed that standards should be enforced to protect the integrity of the profession.

Topmost in the agenda of the meeting was discussion on the implementation of the council’s decision to withdraw practising licenses of a considerable number of nurses whose qualifications were found wanting as a result of the benchmarking exercise silently carried out by NMCB in the past three years.

Nancy Modisaotsile, Chairperson of NMCB, had confirmed the meeting, but would not discuss details.

“Certainly issues appertaining to international best practice as well as reviewing of nurses’ competencies must be seen in the context of the regular business of the council, and not like it’s something new,” said Modisaotsile.

She added that she was not aware of any impending plans to revoke nurses’ licenses although the council was set to look into a range of issues within the context of its mandate.

In an address to a closed nurses and midwifery leaders’ sometime late last year, former Minister of Health, Lesego Motsumi, stated that, “NMCB has benefitted enormously from the benchmarking processes involving a number of countries in the region and the International Council of Nurses (ICN), and has begun to effect measures to enhance service delivery to its customers.”

The decentralization of renewal of registration to eight strategic facilities across the country, was cited as one of the achievements of the benchmarking. In addition, the waiting period in between the time of submission of application for registration and the point of approval or rejection has consequently been reduced from six to three months.

The former Health minister further stated that benchmarking had enabled NMCB to compare, and determine more accurately, those who qualify to register and practice in Botswana.

Against that background, “I am informed that measures have had to be taken to register some of your employees after benchmarking with regional bodies and appropriate consultation with their respective countries,” Motsumi told the nursing and midwifery practitioners at the behest of the Council.

She added that, “as a developing nation our education and practice standards must not be compromised on account of political convenience.”

Khumo Modisaemang, Registrar of NMCB, was at pains to refute allegations that the Council is at an advanced stage in instituting actions to attain the de- registration of close to fifty and demotion of yet a significant number estimated in hundreds of nurses from Kenya, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Apparently, as part of the cleaning up exercise graduates from South African institutions who have only done their first degree, have already been either barred from employment as midwives or struck off midwifery, because, “It has been decided that on account of our standards they can only be taken as general nurses,” the Registrar stated.

Sources in the Government enclave told The Sunday Standard that, “It is very crucial that authorities tread carefully because as much as it is in the interest of public safety that the measures should be taken, these are human lives too that the council seek to shake up by dismissing them.”

Moreover, the matter could have legal ramifications which Government should most certainly avoid as much as possible.

Meanwhile, the ongoing exodus of nurses into the Private sector and foreign lands continue, according to officials at the Nursing Association of Botswana.