Government has given striking nurses up to 17:00hrs today to report for work or be charged for absenteeism.
Health Minister Dr.Joseph Kasonde has told journalists during a media briefing in Lusaka that government considers all nurses on strike as being absent from duty and that the process of charging them for absenteeism will be commenced.
Dr. Kasonde added that he together with Labour counterpart Fackson Shamenda this morning met the striking nurses at University Teaching Hospital and appealed to them to report for work because their action is illegal.
He stated that all nurses on strike will be required to give reasons for their absenteeism on an individual basis and exculpate themselves as to why disciplinary action should not be taken against them should they fail to meet the deadline of 17:00 hours.
The Health Minister explained that in the absence of justifiable reasons for this, the normal disciplinary process will be followed.
Dr. Kasonde has since applauded and appreciated the great work and dedication from health professionals not on strike who continue to render care to patients.
The strike action by the nurses at UTH has entered day seven, and has since spread to Levy Mwanawasa, Livingston and Kasama General Hospitals.
Meanwhile, the Planned Parenthood Association of Zambia has come on board to offer free medical services at its clinics following the prolonged nurses strike in public health facilities.
PPAZ Executive Director Edford Mutuma announced in Lusaka that the association will from today offer free services at all its three clinics in Lusaka, Livingstone and Kitwe to help alleviate the sufferings of the patients.
“PPAZ would like to help our people in a small way by opening our clinics in Lusaka along Church road, our Livingstone clinic at 51 Kanyanta Avenue and our Kitwe clinic on Independence Avenue to offer intensive and comprehensive reproductive health services for free during these hard moments,” Mr Mutuma said.
He said the services to be offered will include laboratory services, malaria test, STI screening and Testing, HIV counseling and testing, Cervical Cancer screening, long and short acting family planning and all kinds of blood test.
“It is our hope that this will ease pressure on our people and we will contribute to savings lives of our people.”
Mr Mutuma however called for a quick fix by government and the striking union to come up with a solution.
“We are also appealing to government to start thinking of introducing long term solutions to the deficit of human resources in the health sector by training more medical personnel. Government should seriously engage the private sector to train more health workers.”
He said government should also consider investing in the defence force to come up with a strong health department which can go across the country to offer health services.