Zimbabwe News

Harare faces grave diggers, nurses crisis

BY MOSES MATENGA

HARARE City Council has been hard hit by a shortage of grave diggers with the few remaining at the local authority’s eight cemeteries overwhelmed as they are burying at least 40 people per day.

Acting mayor Stewart Mutizwa confirmed to NewsDay yesterday that though they were trying, they were overwhelmed by the situation made worse by the surge in COVID-19 deaths.

He said council had brought back most of its workers to try and address the crisis.

“It is true that we are somehow overwhelmed. We had sent half of our workforce home as part of the lockdown regulations and protocols, but we have brought everyone back because of the rise in demand for graves which is just too much now,” Mutizwa said.

“We are burying at least 40 people a day and the problem is there are some who apply and want to bury their loved ones the same day because of COVID-19.”

He said they pleaded for grave diggers from their partners and recently received 15 from a local funeral parlour to assist in addressing the crisis.

“We were overwhelmed to an extent that we asked our partners to assist. It is a challenge, but we are trying,” Mutizwa added.

Council also said its clinics were overwhelmed due to a shortage of nurses who are reportedly leaving for greener pastures.

“Our clinics are understaffed. While we attend to COVID-19 vaccinations, we still attend to other ailments,” council tweeted yesterday while responding to residents’ concerns over poor service delivery.

“We have lost nurses to other institutions.”

According to the Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), several clinics, among them the Kuwadzana Polyclinic, were overwhelmed by people seeking to be vaccinated.

“Currently, residents are being turned away as the health personnel are prioritising those who registered last Friday,” CHRA said in a statement.

The Zimbabwe Nurses Association has also confirmed that nurses were leaving the profession in large numbers at a time they are needed most.

Health personnel, including doctors, have complained of inadequate personal protective equipment which they say exposes them to the deadly virus that has killed over 3 580 people since last year.

COVID-19 chief co-ordinator Agnes Mahomva said a high number of those getting seriously ill were unvaccinated, and urged people, including pregnant women and the elderly to get vaccinated.

 Follow Moses on Twitter Moses @mmatenga


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