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Covid-19 Volunteers Petition Health Ministry

By:Justicia Shipena
A group of Covid-19 volunteers are demanding that the health ministry offer them permanent employment. This is after the health ministry decided to terminate the contracts of all 1 444 Covid-19 volunteers across the country in October last year.
On Tuesday the group marched to the health ministry’s building shouting, “When they recruited us, they did not take those who were qualified, and we were the heroes and heroines in Covid-19 times but today they want to dump us”.
The ministry’s executive director, Ben Nangombe, in the letter sent earlier to the former volunteers, he had explained that the decision was taken due to the considerable decline in Covid-19 cases and the repeal of all public health regulations on 25 August 2022, as well as the financial situation faced by the ministry.
However, Medusalem Negola who was a health assistant based at the airport and part of the Covid-19 committee that organised the protest, said they feel they were unfairly treated especially with the manner how the ministry ended their contracts.
Negola said the ministry had informed them that there was no money, adding that they were forced to take leave days that had to be paid out.
“We were forced to take leave because they said there is no money. We feel the way we were let go was unfair given everything we were going through,” he expanded.
He stressed that there are so many things the group of volunteers are not happy about and that the ministry made it difficult for them to qualify for the 820 vacant posts that were made available within the ministry.
“There are so many issues including our social security, we were not registered but we were being deducted. The conditions we worked under at the mortuary. I worked at the Windhoek mortuary with the Covid-19 bodies and we received no training,” Negolaexplained.
He told The Villager that the group of volunteers want a little bit of recognition.
In November last year, health minister Kalumbi Shangula called on all Covid-19 volunteers to return to work after their contracts were terminated in October.
Speaking on the matter, Negola said a week or two later the group was called back after complaining to complete the two months that remained.
“The last contract was for six months. They called us in mid-November to come back and finish the two months.”
He reckons that there are employment opportunities within the ministry as it is faced with a shortage of staff. “We know that the need for employment is there. What we were doing there is no one doing it at the moment. Our former colleagues are complaining about the shortage of staff,” Negolasaid.
The group handed over the petition to a deputy director in the ministry with the demand theyrespond within 14 days.
“They told us they will channel it to the right authorities and they will respond in due time.”
He also mentioned that should the ministry not respond in that time-frame, the volunteers will continue demonstrating until they are heard.
“It is only us know the conditions we were working under, especially at the mortuary, there was physiological damage, given that no training was provided whatsoever. We have seen our family members die of Covid-19. I mean, you are handling a call, you donot necessarily know exactly who you are going to collect and we had cases where it is someone you know.”

Justicia Shipena

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