Minister’s ‘joke’ sparks controversy

Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa

HARARE – Health and Child Care minister David Parirenyatwa’s witticism on Friday sparked controversy when he appealed to struggling farmers in hunger-torn Muzarabani District to feed the underpaid nurses as a form of improving good relations.

The statement made in jest flew in the face of an appeal by Muzarabani MP Christopher Chitindi, who had asked the minister to lobby his colleagues in Cabinet to support his constituency with resources.

“You may be aware that Muzarabani District is the poorest district in the country,” Chitindi said as he opened the floor for Parirenyatwa during the National Teenage Fertility Study launch at St Albert’s Mission Hospital.

“So when you are in Cabinet, please lobby for us so that we get more resources. We are thankful government has been assisting with food aid, but we need more.”

Parirenyatwa later took to the stage but without any hint of irony lavished nurses with praise for standing by government despite long working hours that were not being equaled by the remuneration.

“We are very happy with the government hospitals that are out there (in the outskirts) that are often not recognised,” Parirenyatwa said.

“It’s always thought nurses are always sitting at work and doing nothing but they work hard and I want to thank them for that.

“I want to ask all nurses that please nurses handle your patients with care, please keep  doing the best you can for your patients, I know you are overstretched and I know you are overworked but keep doing the best you can.

“Imimiwo ana mai nana baba kana muine mbambaira nezvimwe zvakadaro, mopawo ma nurse(Parents if you have sweet potatoes and other things, give to nurses),” added Parirenyatwa.

Last week, the nurses and doctors brought to an end a crippling strike which had destabilised the public hospitals as they protested poor pay and conditions of service.

“We are lucky that we have been allowed to recruit 2 000 more nurses,” Parirenyatwa said.

“I think that is a good thing. Although we have 4 000 unemployed nurses, but we can start off with 2 000. It will go a long way towards alleviating the workload.”

Public hospitals are experiencing myriad problems — including having to deal with acute drug shortages and obsolete equipment — while at times experiencing power and water cuts.

Despite the humongous problems bedevilling the public health sector, President Robert Mugabe’s misfiring government has once again allocated a measly budget to hospitals and clinics this year.

Government has reduced the vote for health from $331 million to a disappointing $282 million — a figure that falls way short of meeting the big demands of the public health sector. – Daily News

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