About 36 unemployed registered nurses yesterday picketed at the Ministry of Health and Social Services headquarters where they demanded answers on when they will be employed. The nurses refused to hand their petition to the deputy health minister, Juliet Kavetuna, saying they will only deal with the minister Dr Bernard Haufiku.
They booed the deputy minister who silently waited for at least 15 minutes before leaving. “Maybe Haufiku is coming,” was Kavetuna’s response before making the thumbs down gesture before leaving. “We only want the minister to accept our petition,” said the group’s spokesperson Junias Shilunga.
The nurses held up placards written “budget is out”, “Ministry of Health please hire us”, and “stop discriminating nurses”. They also demanded answers on the frozen posts, saying the posts were advertised last year and nurses have waited for the budget to be released.
They have been waiting to be employed since December, as has been the norm, the nurses explained to reporters. The newly registered nurses wrote their final examinations last year and are expected to graduate this year. They completed their studies at the University of Namibia, International University of Management and Welwitchia University.
According to Shilunga, there are at least 210 unemployed registered nurses who graduated from these institutions but have been waiting to be employed since they wrote their final examinations late last year. Furthermore, Shilunga alleged that employment preference is given to graduates from the National Health Training Centres. “Yet they only have diplomas. We have enough experience and been trained well,” charged Shilunga.
Shilunga added that the health ministry is more concerned about creating jobs for doctors and pharmacists “but not nurses”.
One of the demonstrating nurses, Petrina Komeya, who completed her studies at IUM, says she is yet to get feedback from the health ministry after applying for a job in December. Komeya said she applied to volunteer while waiting for a permanent job but has not received any answers.
“Patients are being cared for by cleaners and security officers at some health facilities while we are here,” said Komeya, who has been at home for three months without a job.