THE Bulawayo City Council is grappling with staff shortages in the health department and is planning to engage local MPs to appraise them on the challenges they are beset with.
According to a confidential report, the local authority should have 317 nurses, but currently employs 197 and has 121 vacancies.
Director of health services, Zanele Hwalima, said the government had not been reimbursing council 50% for funding personal health services.
“It would be appreciated that while most services in the health services department were termed ‘essential’ the filling of the positions was heavily dependent on the ability to pay staff.
“It was well known that council was facing a challenge in this regard,” Hwalima told a council meeting.
“At this juncture it would be pertinent to remind all that there existed an agreement entered into by Ministry of Health and Child Care and Council in 1974 for funding of personal health services wherein the government undertook to reimburse council 50% of the costs incurred in provisions of this service.
“There had been no reimbursement for the past 10 years leaving council to fund this heavily subsidised service from its resources”.
According to the report, council is unable to recruit nursing staff and re-equip and refurbish clinics.
The report indicates that council has acute shortages of grave diggers as it has only 59 out of the required 90 and requires 84 street sweepers compared to the current 46.
Council also requires 15 health inspectors, but currently has 23.
During the debate, a councillor Ngwenya expressed concern over crippling staff shortages.
“She observed that available staff was now suffering from ‘burn-out’.
The number of nurses should be increased and council should take this issue seriously,” part of the report reads.
Town clerk Middleton Nyoni said cashflow constraints affected recruitment of staff, but “there were a lot of trained nurses who are not employed.
It would be prudent to have such issues raised in Parliament”.