President Michael Sata has exhibited one of the worst traits of an uncaring leader who has allowed his own citizens to perish in the name of politicking in his decision to dismiss the nurses, says Non-Governmental Organisation Coordinating Council board chairperson, Beatrice Grillo.
And State House has refused to comment on the crisis in the health sector that has seen more than 500 nurses fired and given a grace period of five years in which to reapply for their jobs.
When contacted to comment on the worsening health situation in the country and whether President Sata would consider pardoning and reinstating the fired nurses as a Christmas gift to Zambians, presidential press aide George Chellah refused to comment and terminated the call.
But NGOCC told the Daily Nation that there was no justification for the government to allow the continued suffering of the people because the nurses were merely demanding what government had promised them.
“Where people’s lives are involved, the President should be able to act for the benefit of many people who would either fail to enter Christmas or new Year because the government had taken some uncaring position. For those who would be able to survive, they will be in excruciating pain or will be mourning their dead loved ones and it would have been fitting for President Sata to have used his love and decree the reinstatement of the fired nurses,” Grillo said.
She explained that nurses were a critical group in the country that needed special approach in addressing their problems.
The women’s rights’ activist said it was unfortunate that government only addressed their alleged illegal action when they should have been looking at the way of handling the nurses’ demands.
She explained that nurses were not unreasonable people who would refuse to adjust their demands as they have been known to work beyond their timetable.
“We are not saying they should exercise their human rights to go on strike or protest, but we are also saying they should be able to do so with caution and consideration of the plight of the people against their demands. But this is also government’s responsibility to find an effective and proper response to any such action by any other sector especially health workers for that matter to avoid unnecessary loss of life,” Grillo said.
Grillo charged that if the demands by the nurses were outrageous, government should have devised a more effective response to the situation than firing the health workers at the expense of the thousands of sick people in the country.
“President Sata swore to serve and protect the people of Zambia but what kind of service is this that allows people to suffer continuously because of inadequate service at public hospitals?” she questioned.
Last week, Health Minister Dr Joseph Kasonde admitted to the press that the dismissal of nurses has created interruptions of services at all major health institutions including the University Teaching Hospital (UTH).
At UTH, some operating theatres have been closed while cleaning staff has been forced to attend to patients as a result of absence of nurses in the wards due to the critical shortage after government decided to dismiss over 150 nurses at the institution.