Zimbabwe Nurses Strike Over Lack Of PPEs Amid Covid-19 Surge

January 8, 2021
| Report Focus News
A health worker washes her hands during a demonstration of preparations for any potential coronavirus cases at a hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, March 11, 2020. Picture taken March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Nurses at Zimbabwe’s Sally Mugabe, formerly Harare Central and Bulawayo’s Mpilo Hospital, have downed tools in protest over the lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) after a senior nurse died of Covid-19.

According to media reports, the untimely death of Matron Miriam Mupindu who died of Covid-19 on Thursday fueled the protests.

The nurses gave the government an ultimatum that they will only return to work after their demands have been met. Zimbabwe Nurses Association official Samson Gurupira confirmed the development.

“Look here, we are frontline workers and have high exposure to the pandemic so we need adequate PPE. These midwives were only given face masks and plastic aprons and it is inadequate. What made them panic is the death of the matron today. She was in charge of the whole department this last Sunday and contracted Covid 19 resulting in her death this morning (Thursday),So what we are basically saying is we will sit outside until we are provided with adequate PPE” said Gurupira

Mpilo Central Hospital chief executive officer Solwayo Ngwenya said staff at the institution was being tested.

“We test everyone, the patients and the staff. We have an open ward where we test everyone and here at Mpilo, we even follow and test dead bodies. If you visit the hospital, you will see that this is a lie,” Ngwenya said.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights accused the government of defying a court order compelling it to provide adequate PPE to hospital staff.

“The Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Ministry of Finance are in contempt of court. There is a court order they are defying. Frontline health workers must have adequate PPE.”

Last year, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) took the government to court over PPE provision in public institutions.

On April 14, 2020, the High Court ruled that the government should provide all frontline health practitioners working at public health facilities in the country or deployed to trace contacts exposed by infected people with adequate PPE.