Nurses defy government deadline

Health workers at the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) have defied government’s directive to return to work or face dismissal.

Last week Health Minster Kapembwa Simbao and Chief Government spokesperson Ronnie Shikapwasha gave striking health workers and nurses an ultimatum of up to today, June 29, 2009, in which to resume work failure to which they were told to consider themselves dismissed.

A check by ZANIS at Zambia’s highest referral centre the University Teaching Hospital (UTH) revealed that the nurses have continued with their strike action as many wards are still deserted while others were found closed.

In some wards such as the maternity wing and the casualty only a skeleton of student nurses and senior Doctors were found attending to a large number of patients.

The situation at the children’s ward was no different as most of the wards are still closed and only a few patients were found at the out patients section waiting to be attended to.

Meanwhile, Nurses were found seated at the car park of the main entrance near the casualty ward while others were found loitering within the hospital premises.

And patients talked to expressed concerned at the stance taken by health workers not to resume work.

Sharon Ntembwe said the current situation at the hospital is sad as many lives have continued to be lost due to lack of medical attention.

And another patient Chisanga Mulenga called on government to quickly intervene in matter by offering a lasting solution to the problem and save lives of vulnerable people who can not afford to seek medical attention in private clinics.

Mr. Mulenga charged that the ultimatum by government is likely to worsen the situation adding that government is supposed to engage in dialogue with workers.

And UTH Public Relations Manager Pauline Mbangweta referred all the queries to the Ministry of Health who could not be reached by press time.

Nurses and other health workers in the country have been on strike for more than 35 days demanding improved condition of service such as the risk, uniform and night duty among other allowances.

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