BY DR MASIMBA MAVAZA
We are living in hard times, these are difficult times. A glance on a whatsapp group will give you sad news. Another person from Zimbabwe in Zimbabwe has died. In one day you will receive news of over ten people you personally know who succumb to the deadly Corona virus. One wonders if our hospitals have become death traps.
Many people who contract Corona virus and get admitted in the hospital they never come back alive.
The growing number of cases of COVID-19 pose a major threat to international health and wellbeing of humans. So humanity has declared war on the virus. Nurses and Healthcare workers are always on the frontline, whether it is an elective treatment or not.
Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has evolved into a global pandemic. Having already experienced the first two waves of infections, in Zimbabwe the battle against the disease is expected to last even once the third wave ends. During these waves, many Zimbabwean healthcare workers who wore no personal protective equipment (PPE), are treating COVID-19-infected patients with a sense of responsibility despite the absence of vaccines and established medical treatment protocols. In the absence of PPE, such as a mask, particulate respirator, goggles, face shield, gloves, apron, and gown, as a preventive measure against infection when caring for COVID-19 patients.
Zimbabwean nurses have treated COVID-19 patients in spite of the risk of infecting themselves and their family members and being targeted by harmful rumors associated with treating COVID-19 patients. Under such circumstances, incentives for our nurses involved in the potentially long-term battle against COVID-19 can be a critical factor in their willingness to continue to engage in COVID-19-related work.
However, it remains unknown how nurses evaluate the incentives provided for them.
In this day and age our nurses consider financial incentives as an important motivation. Our nurses are not motivated by promises of farms and a simple pat on the back.
In this time of COVID 19 Mthuli NCUBE must convince the government to have a Government’s Supplementary Budget for Healthcare Staff Dealing with COVID-19 as in other countries.
The salary reports of our Zimbabwean nurses shows that the basic salaries of most nurses are determined by the seniority system, regardless of the hospital department, specialty, or professional expertise.Therefore, if there were no financial incentive, such as risk allowances, there would be no difference between the salaries of a nurse working in low-risk environments and the salaries of nurses working in environments with a high risk of exposure to COVID-19. Compensating nurses at the level of financial incentives requested may not be easy; however, maintaining their motivation is as critical as vaccine development and therapeutic agent discovery.
It should be noted that providing adequate PPE was also a critical factor in preventing nurses from experiencing a magnitude of mental health problems.
The situation in Zimbabwe is dire. Many people who attend public hospitals have complained that the nurses are badly incentivised and this shows on the way they treat their patients. The treatment COVID 19 patients face in public hospitals is appalling.
Even as the coronavirus pandemic affects virtually every aspect of our lives, it poses specific challenges for healthcare providers trying to play it safe for themselves and their patients.
These times are not very certain and need assurances from our health care providers. Healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis are fighting around the clock to keep critically ill patients alive despite shortages of masks and other crucial personal protective equipment (PPE). Many workers have fallen ill, been forced to indefinitely quarantine or isolate themselves from loved ones, or have even lost their lives.
In the face of these daunting challenges, hospitals, clinics, and other healthcare organizations must seriously reconsider their benefits and compensation policies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put additional demands and risks on frontline personnel while further stretching health budgets it is a war situation and must be treated just as we behave during the war. It is the duty of our government and our business fraternity to support those in the forefront of this war against COVID 19.
Financial incentives range from salary top ups to health insurance to housing. Despite COVID-19 showing how important health workers are, many still fail to be financially compensated on time and adequately. “Paying wages on time is the simplest action governments can take to maintain a level of motivation or, at least, prevent one of the commonly encountered demotivating factors.
In the absence of a sufficient wage, health workers are forced to find other sources of income in or out of the health sector,
Insufficient wages and delays in payments are widespread.
Apart from the direct infection risks arising from close contact with patients and/or potentially infectious co-workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare workers are also under increasing stress and mental health risks.
The number of infected and severely ill patients is escalating as well as the number of exposed healthcare workers who are under self-quarantine, either because they have been infected with COVID-19 or have been in contact with a case. This is leading to a much greater workload and stress for those left in the healthcare workforce and a serious weakening of the health service provided.
Mental health risks are further exacerbated by reported shortages of protective equipment for healthcare workers in many parts of the world and particularly in Zimbabwe.
In addition to healthcare workers, there are many other types of workers who are at increased risk of COVID-19 infection through their work, usually from being in close proximity to members of the public.
Without incentives the complaints of the nurses is seen in the deaths coming from the hospitals.
We should strive towards a system that can protect and support our healthcare workers.
If we are to succeed in fighting this disease we must take care of our health care workers. We can not afford to treat them like any other worker.
In the past month we have lost many people to COVID-19.
Our nursing or health care workers unions have not been helpful. We are not told how many nurses are dying due to COVID 19.
As a nation we must give priority to our health workers. Those showy rich people like Passion Java Phillip Chiyangwa and the real rich ones who are not showy must come together and set up a fund to supplement the salaries of the health workers.
It is not only the duty of the government to give incentives to the health workers.
As a nation we must put our resources together and reward our health workers.
Humankind takes pride in being recognised. It will be highly important for the government to award a cross of bravery to our nurses our doctors our health workers. Zimbabwe can do better let us recognise those who are working for the nation. COVID is real and we must accept that those fighting it are real.
Many lives can be saved by remunerating those fighting for our freedom. Freedom from Covid.