The City of Harare has been forced to shut down nine clinics due to a shortage of nurses.
Harare City Council needs 1 000 nurses for its clinics but is currently operating with about 400 nurses after most of the staff left for greener pastures.
Three clinics have been completely shut, namely Southerton, Matapi and Highlands Polyclinic, with six others, that is, Mt Pleasant, Borrowdale, Avondale, Braeside, Glen Norah clinics and Highlands Family Health Services, now only open for COVID-19 vaccinations.
In an interview with The Herald, HCC health services director Dr Prosper Chonzi said the clinics will be reopened for all services when the staff crisis is resolved. He said:
We have lost hundreds of our nurses who resigned and pursued greener pastures. At the height of the COVID-19 era, most nurses were flocking to the United Kingdom while others went to other foreign countries where they were offered better remuneration.
Some were recruited by local non-governmental organisations, who also offered them better salaries in foreign currency.
Some organisations that fish from our pond are even our partners and we work with them, hence it was an issue of a nurse continuing to do the same job in council, but now being paid by an NGO.
To that end, we started rationalising our services, taking those few nurses left at some smaller clinics, moving them to bigger clinics to boost staff there. We would then shut those smaller clinics.
Currently, a total of nine clinics are closed, that is, three are completely shut while six others are partially open for COVID-19 vaccination only.
They will re-open for all services when the staff crisis is resolved.
The local authority has since issued a notice to recruit 320 nurses (270 permanent and 50 locum nurses) to improve service delivery.