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Zimbabwe nurses prepare for African sojourn

By Derick Matsengarwodzi

Previous Mudzingwa could have joined another profession. Had it not been for her persistent parents, she could be an artist.

Coming from a background of civil servants her parents insisted that she enrol as a nurse. After completing her training, she was bonded by the government and she cannot move outside the country in search of employment like before.

“I am now a chicken farmer by default because there is nothing else to feed my family. When I enrolled for the nursing course, I had high hopes of securing a decent job and fend for my family. Had it not been for my family, I could have been an artist. But I had to respect their wishes and ended up as a redundant nurse,” she said.

Currently about 2 000 nurses are unemployed. And Previous is now one of them.

And news that Zimbabwe will soon start exporting thousands of nurses that had not been absorbed into the health mainstream is good news to her. According to government sources, it had completed crafting modalities for exporting the jobless but qualified nurses to other countries across the world.

But her fears still remain intact, after some revelations that South Sudan might be one of the beneficiaries in the near future. The country including the mountainous Lesotho another possible destination has been ravaged by regular uprisings. Nursing schools continue churning out nurses, but with soaring unemployment and a broke government the new health workers struggle to get jobs.

Despite the planned exports the country's hospitals face critical staff shortages. Zimbabwe hopes to send its unemployed nurses to Swaziland, Lesotho, Trinidad and Tobago, under a government to government agreement. Deputy Health Minister, Douglas Mombeshora says all paper work has already been submitted to the Attorney General's office.

"When the AG's office finishes scrutinising and approves the document, we will then submit it to cabinet for final approval," he said. Official statistics reveal that in 2010, only 374 nurses were employed from 1,516 trained while 607 got jobs in 2011 from 1,044 who trained.

The responsible ministry has revealed that the idea to export health personal is meant to re-coup funds used in training the nurses. And it will withhold practicing certificates for nurses and countries employing them will be required to remit their pensions to Zimbabwe. Labour experts maintain that government's failure to employ bonded nurses was illegal.

Zimbabwe has offloaded nursing staff and various medical personal into other economies since time in memorial. The United Kingdom, South Africa and New Zealand have been some of the beneficiaries. Government then introduced bonding in 2007 to curtail the brain drain and retain medical professionals, to recoup the money used in their training. – The Health Oracle/Online Sources  
Derick Matsengarwodzi is a communication consultant and founder of The Aloe Media – a communication entity. An ardent researcher and media devotee – you can interact with him through: Facebook or email: derickmats@gmail.com or http://tinzwei.blogspot.com or http://thehealthoracle.blogspot.com.

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