ZAMBIA Union of Nurses Organisation (ZUNO) General Secretary Fray Michelo says government should expedite the recruitment of health workers to ensure that frontline workers are in place in case of a spike in COVID-19 cases.

In an interview, Michelo urged government to quicken the process, noting that there was a delay in employing health workers.

“We are hearing pockets of news that in such an area there is an outbreak. We heard at Hillcrest already, [that] pupils there most of them are affected with the COVID. It comes at a time when government is trying to employ more health workers, so probably all we would call is that government should quicken the process so that these health workers are in place and they are positioned, ready to fight the COVID in case it spikes in high numbers. So really because so far we have seen that there is a delay in terms of employing these health workers. I know probably with the systems that they are putting in place to make sure that the process is transparent. But as they do that, let them quicken up the process,” he said.

Michelo also urged the Ministry of Health to look at areas which were highly in need and susceptible to having high numbers of COVID-19 cases when distributing health workers.

“Also when distributing these health workers, I think it is important to look at the areas that are highly in need and also areas that are susceptible of having numbers of COVID so that we have enough space. Because what used to happen previously is that health workers were drawn from various institutions to go into COVID centres and this created a shortage in those various institutions,” he said.

“In those institutions, that is where the screening was done. So you will find that it wasn’t helpful to move health workers from this point to that point. If anything, we just need to beef up all the points to have adequate health workers so that they are able to screen and also take care of the patients that are admitted. So let them quicken up the process of employment. By now we are expecting that they would announce that they have concluded and they have employed.”

When asked whether he was happy with the number of nurses that were expected to be employed, Michelo responded in the negative, saying more nurses were needed.

“No! We are not happy and we expected more numbers, but since this was a pronouncement at one stage, we expect that employment of frontline workers especially the nurses should continue even after this exercise. Going forward, we would want government to continue of course with replacements as well as seeking treasury authority for new positions to build up,” said Michelo.