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Health workers in Zambia on Thursday reacted angrily to the government’s decision to ban them from having private jobs in the private sector as it was against their conditions of service.

In an internal memo sent to all supervisors in government health institutions, Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary Kennedy Malama said all employees in the ministry should not be allowed to engage in multiple services whilst employed by the ministry.

But the announcement has received mixed reactions from both the health workers and members of the general public.

Francis Mupeta, Secretary-General of the Zambia Medical Association, said the association has learnt with disbelief the memo stopping health workers from being engaged in extra economic activity and that it was disappointing that only medical personnel have been singled out.

“The directive amounts not only to intimidation but lack of appreciation of the human resources for health despite what they put in to save the face limping health sector as far as human resource is concerned,” he said in a statement.

He said the association was disappointed because there was no law that forbids citizens to have duo practice in public and private sectors.

The memo from the ministry, he said, was ambiguous because it does not specify whether it includes work or employment done outside government hours.

The Zambia Union of Nurses Organization (ZUNO) also expressed disappointment with the memo banning health workers from engaging in extra work.

Fray Michelo, the organization’s general secretary said in a separate statement that with the harsh economic situation in the country, it does not make sense to ban health workers from engaging in extra work whilst on leave or off government hours in order to make extra income.

It is not a secret that one cannot depend on a meager salary only which is further been cut each time due to introduction of more taxes, high taxes, she added.

According to her, the nurses and midwives do not use government man hours to do other jobs but rather use their free time and were not in conflict with any existing terms and conditions of service for public service employees.

She further said such directives could end up frustrating and demotivating nurses and midwives which may lead to poor output and compromise service delivery.

The announcement has also received mixed reactions from members of the general public, with some supporting it while others have condemned it.

Luke Bwalya, a 40-year-old teacher in Lusaka, the country’s capital has supported the move saying it was affecting service delivery in public hospital as health workers prefer concentrating in private health institutions where they are paid good money. Enditem

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