By Kaleb Nghishidivali
OTJIWARONGO, 10 August- The Namibia Nurses Union (NANU) has issued a stern rebuke, denouncing the government’s neglect and exploitation of healthcare workers. The union warns that the country’s healthcare system is teetering on the verge of collapse.
During a press briefing in Otjiwarongo, NANU Secretary General Junias Shilunga delivered a forceful statement expressing deep disappointment and alarm regarding the state of healthcare in Namibia. Shilunga highlighted that nurses, who serve as the cornerstone of an effective health system, are being exploited and forced to bear the weight of a deteriorating healthcare infrastructure.
The statement unequivocally declared, “Nurses have become sacrificial lambs for a dysfunctional and degenerating system,” shedding light on a series of grave concerns that, if unaddressed, could endanger the lives of Namibia’s population.
Of particular concern, Shilunga emphasized the union’s longstanding critique of the government’s failure to provide nurses with uniforms over the past decade. NANU contends that this neglect has not only created financial strain for nurses but has also eroded the professional identity of nursing.
In response to these pressing issues, the union has presented a set of urgent demands to the government. Among them, NANU calls for the payment of all overtime hours worked in accordance with Namibia’s Labour Act. The union also encourages nurses to reject additional working hours if the government continues to issue alleged illegal directives.
Furthermore, NANU insists that nurses assigned to clinics should not be required to work on weekends and after regular hours unless the clinic has been officially designated as a Health Centre. The union implores the government to expedite the recruitment of additional nurses into healthcare facilities and underscored the necessity of providing uniforms to nurses.
Additionally, NANU is urging the Ministry of Labour, responsible for safeguarding employee rights, to intervene.
“We call upon the government to provide us with a response on their plans to resolve these raised issues by 31 August 2023,” Shilunga asserted, cautioning that inadequate responses could lead to unspecified actions.
In response, Ben Nangombe, the Executive Director of the Ministry of Health and Social Services, defended the Ministry’s stance, explaining that they are striving to manage resources and provide services within legal parameters. Nangombe emphasized the Ministry’s commitment to maintaining quality healthcare facilities.
Addressing the potential for union actions, Nangombe stated that he would operate within the framework of labor law and pointed to a tripartite platform where labor unions, worker unions, and the government collaborate to resolve issues.- Namibia Daily News