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NURSES MARCH TO MINISTRY, DEMAND PROTECTIVE GEAR

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image MBABANE - A police officer talking to a lady who was sleeping on the road, disturbing motorists from passing through during the nurses’ march to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Health and Cabinet Offices, demanding protective gear for the coronaviru

MBABANE – Get sick at your own risk. That is the message sent by the Swaziland Nurses Association (SNA) to the public when they went to deliver a petition to the Ministry of Health and Cabinet offices yesterday.


The nurses said they would not attend to any patients without protective gear.
They stated that their research revealed that there were over 5 000 health workers of the thousands people fighting for their lives in hospitals because they were exposed to coronavirus while at work. The nurses said as the nation was worried about contracting the virus, they were equally troubled that they were made what they termed as ‘sacrificial lambs’.


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“There is no appropriate personal protective equipment for us. The equipment said to be available was stock left over for the 2008 H1N1 response,” reads part of the petition.
They further said they did not undergo in-service training on handling such cases.
The nurses said their safety was paramount and as the scientific uncertainty continued, they aligned themselves with staying safe.


They quoted Section 18 (2) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act no.9 of 2001 which reads; “An employee shall have the right to remove him or herself from danger when such an employee has reasonable justification to believe there is imminent and serious risk to the safety and health of that employee.”


They stated that the ministry was welcome to come to their workplace to confirm the risk they were in as the same act, in the subsequent paragraph states that the employer shall investigate the situation and all the circumstances, paying particular attention to the safety and health of the employees. It states that if there is disagreement between an employee and employer, the matter shall immediately be referred by either party to the safety and health committee or an inspector to study the situation.


This, they said, was in line with the recently released guidelines on COVID-19 that employees were supposed to remove themselves from a situation of exposure.


Among the items the nurses said were short included gloves, N95 masks, soap, sanitizers and PPE.
They stated that they did not have water in hospitals but the ministry was, on the other hand, advising that they wash their hands.
“Sitiwashe ngani kute insipho, kute emanti netimpompi ta rusta,” shouted the crowd.


Meanwhile, nurses at ports of entry have been applauded for their job. The Swaziland Nurses Association said they saluted the sterling work done by health care workers in the ports of entry to identify suspected coronavirus cases and notify the relevant authorities immediately.
However, they also stated that the work of the nurses was let down by what they termed as ‘indecisiveness’ of government as a political entity and unpreparedness to receive those who have been identified.


“Most health care facilities have no isolation wards and all suspected cases are kept together, even those that are COVID-19 free,” reads part of the petition.
They further stated that government was underpaying the nurses who have been employed to fight the pandemic.


Meanwhile, nurses nearly lifted an escort car which was escorting Army Commander Jeffry Tshabalala as it wanted to pass through them. This happened when the nurses were walking up the hill to cabinet offices. Police officers who were escorting the nurses tried to intervene but were overcrowded by the nurses who demanded that the car turn back. They started throwing papers at the vehicle. The police officers removed the papers and showed the driver of the car another route to use to the cabinet offices.


The nurses also turned back three other vehicles which tried to pass through them as they were walking on the road.
They further threw the papers they were carrying at the entrance of the cabinet offices.

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