Government intends to include a customer care training course in the curriculum for nurses at a time when many Zimbabweans complain of inhospitable treatment by these professionals.
By Kudakwashe Pembere
Officiating the Harare Central Hospital Graduation Ceremony, Health and Childcare Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said customer care should be prioritised at health institutions.
“In any health institution, the first medical professional who attends to a patient or a client is the nurse. It is very important that these cadres should be equipped with the knowledge and adequate skills to ensure that we have a healthy nation. My ministry is therefore moving in line with ensuring that customer care becomes supreme,” he said.
To achieve this feat, Dr Moyo and his Ministry is working on having customer care courses for nurses.
“My ministry will be organising training courses in customer care at all levels. Starting at the central hospitals, provincial and district level hospitals. Courses will be run centrally in Harare, and then in the provinces. We want to ensure that our nurses, besides the training received now, are equally armed in the care of their customers who are the patients,” he said.
HCH Chief Executive Officer Dr Nyasha Masuka explained how this health institution’s customer care system is modelled.
“Patient centered care in hospitals as we call it these days is patient centered care that considers the bio psychosocial circumstances of a patient and takes into consideration what the patient wants. So there has to be enough time to talk to the patient,” he said.
He added that health practitioners at their institutions are expected to, “Make a correct diagnosis, have a discussion with the patient on the management of that condition, how they can manage it themselves, and how they can take their medicines.”
Dr Masuka also said convenience to the patient is of utmost importance.
“There is the issue of prescribed care that is convenient for the patient. We don’t want someone to be inconvenienced by the care you have given them,” he said.
Affordable healthcare is on top of the list at the Hospital.
“We also want to give cost effective care. We don’t want to unnecessarily prescribe drugs that are very expensive because patients can’t afford them,” said Dr Masuka.
Dr Masuka also said they have a two way communication system between the Hospital and the patients.
“So this is the direction we are going in continuous quality improvement where we have feedback mechanisms from patients through the public relations department. We also encourage our practitioners to be hospitable to patients and make sure that they treat them in the same manner they would want to be treated,” he said.
The issue of uninspired hostile customer care at health institutions is a thorn in the flesh that Zimbabweans grapple with.
At the World Breast Feeding Day commemorations in Mahusekwa last week, First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa said she engaged the Health Ministry to come up with drastic standards to penalize negligent midwives and doctors.
At a Citizen Health Watch workshop on Adolescent Mothers held a fortnight ago, various mothers complained at the way they were treated which left them at near death situations while at times they lost their babies to this negligence.
Government officials at the event acknowledged that such cases were happening and were crafting stern measures to deal with such maleficence.
However, from the surveys done by Citizen Health Watch, they discovered that there were kind and caring nurses and midwives who were dedicated to their work which they took as a calling. Citizen Health Watch awarded 10 midwives and nurses from the country’s 10 provinces trophies for their exceptional customer care and patient management.