DISGRUNTLED Bulawayo residents have criticised the selection process of 24 student nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital after 20 were selected from outside Matabeleland.
The 24 reportedly started their studies on Monday.
The Health and Child Care Ministry recently introduced an online nurses’ application forum after investigations by the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission concluded there were unacceptable levels of bribery in the old system.
In a letter to the hospital, disappointed applicants said there was need for responsible authorities to investigate the development. “The national advertisement came out a few months ago and we failed to access the website and if you did, you couldn’t know where to pay the RTGS$10 application fee. Internet is not accessible and affordable especially to our rural peers in and outside our region for example where will one get internet connection in Lupane, Bulilima, Nkayi, Tsholotsho?”
The letter also questioned why the selection and interviews were done “secretly” compared to the past years before online application system was adopted. “Some of us went and noticed that most of those coming for interviews are mostly from Harare and surrounding areas of Mashonaland East and Central. People from our region did not make it surprisingly but most if not all from other provinces came back to Bulawayo to start school on Monday at Mpilo and United Bulawayo Hospitals.”
They also called on Health Ambassador First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, provincial ministers of state, MPs, councillors, and all activists to demonstrate against corruption.
The applicants claimed the health system was sidelining the Matabeleland region. “We should start fighting for the statistics in terms of allocation as we have hospitals in Matabeleland like Mpilo and UBH which are as big as Parirenyatwa. Mpilo School of Nursing enrols 25 students per intake, Gwanda 15, St Luke’s 10 while Harare hospital 50, Parirenyatwa 50, Chitungwiza 40, and looking at number it’s clear they don’t want us to learn. They keep lying that we are all quick to cross the border to South Africa but allocation of posts is not justifiable for starters,” reads the letter.
Some nurses at Mpilo Central Hospital said the students who came from other places were likely to be employed in their provinces of origin on completion of studies, leaving a gap in Matabeleland. Contacted for comment, Mpilo clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya who also heads the school of nursing said:
“I would like to confirm that this time around, the selection and interviews were done from Harare and none of us had a hand or were consulted. We have since received the 24 names of the student nurses who started on Monday and all these were a recommendation from the head office,” said Dr Ngwenya.
UBH clinical director Dr Narcissus Dzvanga could not be reached for comment. Another source from the hospital said what she described as “deliberate marginalisation” of Matabeleland prospective students would have far reaching effects on access to health.
“What they have simply done is declare that as a people from this region we do not deserve access to health care. From the list of 24, only four students are from this region and it is clear that they are not worried about our right to health,” she said.
She also said the online application though a noble idea, did not take into cognisance economic challenges.