The Sunday News
Robin Muchetu, Senior Reporter
THE Government has allayed fears of the shortage of health personnel in the country’s hospitals in the wake of nurses being rested after testing positive to Covid-19.
There has been a surge in the number of frontline health workers who are testing positive to the virus in the country’s health institutions raising fears that it may culminate in a shortage of personnel. At least 32 health personnel at United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mpilo Central in Bulawayo tested positive to coronavirus after they came into contact with infected patients while 267 have been isolated after being exposed to the virus at the two hospitals. The staff members were placed on self-isolation at their respective homes.
Acting Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Gibson Mhlanga said the ministry had received more staffers to assist the situation.
“We received additional posts of nurses, doctors, Environmental Health Officers, Environmental Health Technicians and field orderlies for the Covid-19 Response who will man our quarantine and isolation facilities,” he said.
Dr Mhlanga said the situation was under control as they would re-organise their staffers to fit into required areas in need of workers. He, however, could not be drawn into giving the figures of health personnel affected by the virus in the country’s health institutions.
Dr Mhlanga said the shortages that were arising from the health workers going into quarantine or isolation due to the virus were going to be filled as the Government recruits’ nurses periodically.
“Recruiting of nurses is ongoing as posts are opened up from time to time,” he said.
The Eighth Bulletin on Sadc Regional Response to Covid-19 places emphasis on the importance of testing, contact tracing and treating Covid-19 cases. Sadc, however, suggests that governments must take advantage of retired or semi-retired health workers and readmit them into the health system to fill in the gaps that have been created by workers who are in isolation or in quarantine, should the pandemic continue to spread. However, Zimbabwe health officials said they were not going to take the route to re-engage former health workers who retired.
“No effort will be made to recruit retired nurses as they are at risk due to age and comorbidities,” said Dr Mhlanga.
The report places emphasis on the importance of testing given the Continental Initiative on the Partnership to Accelerate Covid-19 Testing (PACT) which member states are urged to implement and be able to test, trace and treat Covid-19 cases.
“Member States are being called on to co-ordinate, communicate, collaborate and co-operate to support the PACT initiative to control Covid-19 in Africa,” read the report.
The report also urged Member States to adapt to the recommended guidelines on criteria for releasing Covid-19 patients from isolation as well as the guidelines for breastfeeding mothers with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 as a reference, in order to address the emerging health issues as they arise.