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Zimbabwe senior doctors join strike as health crisis deepens

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Senior doctors in Zimbabwe have joined the strike started last month by their junior colleagues who are demanding to be paid in US dollars as that country’s surrogate currency – bond notes – rapidly lose value and face growing market rejection.

Junior doctors downed tools a month ago on 1 December and on Wednesday their seniors announced they were joining the strike worsening the already dire health situation exacerbated by the critical shortage of imported medicines.

Poor working conditions, low salaries in bond notes and shortages of basic medicines and equipment are the reasons behind the work stoppage that has left patients in state hospitals unattended.

Zimbabwe’s economy is in meltdown, shortages of foreign currency have seen basic commodities disappear from shop shelves and queues for fuel have become the order of the day. Banks are unable to meet withdrawals and cash is perennially in short supply.

In Wednesday’s memorandum to the country’s major referral hospitals and copied to all heads of departments and the health and child care ministry, senior doctors said they were now overwhelmed by the workload.

“Following the continued industrial action by the junior doctors and their subsequent suspension, we, the senior registrars, have become overwhelmed by the workload and are no longer confident we can discharge our duties properly without compromising both our and patient’s safety” the memorandum read in part.

“Our work involves working as a team and so if the other crucial part is missing, then we are all rendered useless.

“We share the same grievances as our juniors, that of the need for a cost of living adjustments, need for uninterrupted availability of essential drugs and sundries and the need to address the vehicle status of all doctors.

“We have resolved, therefore, as a group to protect our patients and ourselves to withdraw our services until an agreement is reached.”

The move by senior Zimbabwe doctors comes at a time the government is negotiating with junior doctors, despite announcing that they had suspended about 550 striking medics, whose actions the labour court ruled as unlawful.

With no end in sight to the strike, President Emmerson Mnangagwa this week announced he was cutting short his annual leave to deal with the matter, amid threats of industrial action by teachers.

Schools open in Zimbabwe on Tuesday, 8 January.

African News Agency

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NEWS

Zimbabwe Care Workers Fleeced Thousands of Pounds in COS Visa Scandal

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Certificate of Sponsorship Scandal Sees Zimbabwe Care Workers Pay up to  £8k for Visa

Care workers recruited from Zimbabwe are being trapped in the UK. They are forced to pay large debts to recruitment agencies before they can start working. Once they start working, they are paid very little and are often forced to work long hours without breaks. This has led to a situation where these care workers are being exploited and treated unfairly. It has been discovered that Zimbabwean care workers who come to the UK to start their careers are getting scammed and exploited by middlemen. These workers are being taken advantage of by unscrupulous middlemen who trick them into coming to the UK and then withholding up to 50% of their wages, forcing them to live in squalor.

Due to the economic crisis in Zimbabwe, many trained care professionals are seeking employment overseas. However, many agencies, which are often run by Zimbabweans in the UK and are unregulated, are exploiting these workers. Zimbabwean nurses have been working in Britain for years, but hiring care workers is a new trend. Experts say that an ecosystem of manipulation has been built around this phenomenon, which is highly exploitative. One way to move to the UK is to complete a Red Cross care worker certification program, which is highly sought after. However, locals say that middlemen exploit the certificate of sponsorship (COS) by charging high fees.

Terrence Macheka, a trainee nurse, plans to emigrate to the UK when he graduates, and he says that his wife was scammed by agents who charged $380 to put her on the training waiting list, despite the official Red Cross certification fee being only $300. Closed WhatsApp groups show that these agents then ask care workers to pay up to £5,000 to be linked with UK-based care agencies. This has created a web of corruption, where UK-based care agencies run by Zimbabwe nationals give the COS to their relatives and friends first, while others have to pay hefty fees that reach £4,000. Some charge as high as £7,000, which is against British law. 

The UK law is clear that a recruitment agency cannot charge a fee for ‘placing’ an employee, and the person who ‘assigns’ or prepares and allocates the COS cannot be related to the prospective employee. However, regulation of these agencies is weak, and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) suggests that their hands are tied because these actors are not under UK jurisdiction. DHSC says that some organisations may use repayment clauses to recoup upfront costs if internationally recruited staff do not meet the terms of their contract, which is acceptable. Still, it would be concerning if the repayment costs were disproportionate or punitive.

According to experts, various schemes are taking advantage of the chronic staffing issues faced by the UK’s social and healthcare systems. The NHS alone has to fill 40,000 nursing positions, which has led to a surge in international recruitment. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) recently signed a deal with Nepal, allowing 100 nurses to work at the Hampshire Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. This pilot scheme could potentially open up opportunities for thousands of Nepalese nurses to work in the UK. However, the ethics of this move have been questioned by Sir Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians. Nepal is on an international recruitment red list, which the World Health Organization (WHO) operates to prevent developed countries from actively recruiting from regions with a lack of health workers or an undeveloped health system. Sir Andrew said, “That the UK should have [to] do special deals with other countries to support its own NHS workforce is in itself a marker of how workforce planning for the NHS has failed. That we are taking from a country that has substantially lower numbers of healthcare workers than many countries have is something we should have serious reservations about.”

NHS England has also been accused of “emptying” Zimbabwe of health workers. Although the country is not on the red list, experts have warned of a “critical shortage” of staff. In 2020, the UK issued 1,059 skilled visas to Zimbabweans, a figure which jumped to 5,549 in 2022, placing the southern African country among the UK’s top five skilled visa grantees. However, the recruitment drive has drained Zimbabwe so badly that Bulawayo municipality, in the southwest, recently complained that 13 nurses out of its skeleton staff have moved to the UK since January.

Despite the vast difference in the number of health professionals per population, Zimbabwe has managed to maintain a decent nurse-to-patient ratio, with 1.9 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people in 2018. In comparison, the UK had 8.2 nurses and midwives per 1,000 people. However, Zimbabwe is currently facing extreme poverty, which has led to nurses seeking better opportunities elsewhere. Despite being paid just $79 a month and dealing with a high patient load, Zimbabwean nurses have been fleeing the country due to the high inflation rate, which has shot up to 479% in 2020, according to Steve Hanke, director of the Troubled Currencies project at the Cato Institute. These nurses hope for a better life when they reach the UK, but many find themselves in a similar situation of financial insecurity. Experts warn that the issue of overcharging by agencies has become too large to ignore, with leaked care-worker pay slips showing salaries of £2,255 being drained by their employers under the guise of administrative fees until only £604 is left, causing an uproar on Twitter in June.

Mr Chagonda left the UK after only a few months due to unbearable conditions. He was not the only one who experienced a significant reduction in wages or had to live in cramped accommodations. During his time in Britain, he had to pay £70 a week to share a house with eight other people.

“I’ll never return to the UK as a care worker,” he told the local newspaper, describing such schemes as a form of modern slavery. However, the situation for those who were undocumented was even more dire. “I met people who had been in the UK since 1999, without papers, who worked as care workers for agencies and were left with only £300. You just do what they ask you to do,” he said, referring to his colleagues in Leeds. He added that some workers were so financially strapped that they had to sleep in their clients’ homes.

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ENTERTAINMENT

Tawanda Mambo (Saintfloew)goes to SA for rehab

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Zimbabwean rapper Saintfloew is looking to kick his drug addiction once and for all and has reportedly flown out to South Africa where he is going to receive rehabilitation services.

In an interview with Star FM’s Ollah 7 last week, Saintfloew admitted that he was taking drugs, although he was in the process of trying to quit. He refused to admit whether he had been taking the dreaded crystal meth, known popularly as Guka or Dombo.

I cannot confirm the allegations and I cannot say anything about them, so I am not confirming anything and I am not talking about anything. But what I am saying is we came out from the wrong way, a lot happens here in Chitown (Chitungwiza) and I took multiple drugs.

I am still working on quitting taking some of the things. I am not confirming anything but all I can say is there are some drugs that I am trying to stop,” he said.

Saintfloew also revealed that his drug addiction had little to do with the music industry.

It is not like the pressures of music cause artists to take drugs, but before we became artists, we had nothing to do and we had all the time to take drugs. Now if it is regret or moving on, that is what I am working on,” he said

In an interview with H-Metro before the rapper’s departure to South Africa, Saintfloew’s mother, Ebenezer Mambo said that her son’s struggles with drugs were linked to a tough upbringing. She said the musician lost his father at the age of two.

We lost his father when they were still very young and there was no man in the house to whip my son into line. I tried my best to give him a life, but there are some times when a father is needed in the upbringing of children.

I have never doubted my son’s intelligence, but I was worried when he continued pursuing music. He ended up taking drugs and it pains me a lot,” she said.

Mambo praised Nash Paints Group executive chairman, Tinashe Mutarisi, who convinced Saintfloew to go for rehab in SA, for helping her son get back on track.

“I am humbled that good people still exist as is the case with Mr Tinashe Mutarisi. I think he was sent by God to save my son from abusing drugs.

“Like the biblical Moses, Mutarisi has just done the best for my family and I hope my son will come back from South Africa a changed man,” she said.

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HEALTH

Embracing the Mediterranean Diet for a Healthier Lifestyle

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The Mediterranean Diet – a lifestyle that not only promotes good health but also offers a delicious and enjoyable way of eating. In this article, we will delve into the origins and principles of the Mediterranean Diet, explore its key components, and uncover the numerous health benefits it provides. We will also provide you with practical tips on how to incorporate this diet into your daily routine and share some simple yet tasty recipes to get you started. Additionally, we will address the question of whether the Mediterranean Diet can aid in weight loss. So, if you’re ready to embark on a journey towards better health and culinary delight, let’s dive right in!

The Origins and Principles of the Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet is not just a passing trend; it is a way of life that has been followed for centuries in the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. Its origins can be traced back to ancient Greece and Rome, where people relied on the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and olive oil that were readily available in their region. The principles of this diet are simple yet powerful: eat mostly plant-based foods, incorporate healthy fats like olive oil, limit red meat consumption, and enjoy meals with family and friends.

One of the key components of the Mediterranean diet is its emphasis on fresh and seasonal ingredients. This means that your meals should be filled with colourful fruits and vegetables that are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. In addition to these plant-based foods, you should also include whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread in your meals. These provide a good source of fibre and help keep you feeling full for longer periods of time.

Another important principle of the Mediterranean diet is the use of healthy fats like olive oil instead of saturated or trans fats found in processed foods. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats which have been shown to improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol levels. It also adds a delicious flavour to your dishes. Additionally, the Mediterranean diet encourages moderate consumption of dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt which provide calcium and protein.

Key Components of the Mediterranean Diet: What to Include in Your Meals

The Mediterranean diet is known for its emphasis on fresh, whole foods that are rich in nutrients. When it comes to the key components of this diet, there are several food groups that you should include in your meals. These components not only provide a wide range of essential nutrients but also contribute to the overall health benefits of the Mediterranean diet.

One important component of the Mediterranean diet is fruits and vegetables. These should make up a significant portion of your meals, as they are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Aim to include a variety of colourful fruits and vegetables in your daily meals to ensure you’re getting a wide range of nutrients.

In addition to fruits and vegetables, whole grains are another essential component of the Mediterranean diet. Whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, and whole wheat bread provide fibre, which helps promote digestive health and keeps you feeling full for longer. Including whole grains in your meals can also help lower the risk of heart disease and improve blood sugar control.

Health Benefits of the Mediterranean Diet: A Closer Look

The Mediterranean diet is not only known for its delicious and diverse range of foods but also for its numerous health benefits. Research has shown that following this diet can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and certain types of cancer. The key to these health benefits lies in the emphasis on whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients and antioxidants.

One of the main reasons why the Mediterranean diet is so beneficial for our health is because it is high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and healthy fats. These foods are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fibre that support overall well-being. Additionally, the diet includes moderate amounts of lean proteins such as fish and poultry, which provide essential amino acids for muscle growth and repair.

Another important aspect of the Mediterranean diet is its focus on olive oil as the primary source of fat. Olive oil is rich in monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to improve heart health by reducing bad cholesterol levels and increasing good cholesterol levels. This can help lower the risk of heart disease and promote a healthy cardiovascular system.

Tips for Incorporating the Mediterranean Diet into Your Lifestyle

One of the key tips for incorporating the Mediterranean Diet into your lifestyle is to focus on whole, unprocessed foods. This means choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. By avoiding processed foods that are often high in added sugars, unhealthy fats, and preservatives, you can ensure that you are nourishing your body with nutrient-dense foods that promote good health.

Another important tip is to embrace the abundance of plant-based foods in the Mediterranean Diet. Vegetables, legumes, nuts, and seeds are all staples of this eating pattern. Try to incorporate a variety of these foods into your meals and snacks throughout the day. Not only will they provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but they also add delicious flavours and textures to your dishes.

In addition to focusing on food choices, it’s also important to adopt a mindful approach to eating when following the Mediterranean Diet. This means paying attention to hunger and fullness cues, eating slowly and savouring each bite, and being aware of portion sizes. By practising mindful eating, you can develop a healthier relationship with food and enjoy a more satisfying dining experience.

Mediterranean Diet Recipes: Simple and Tasty Ideas to Try

The Mediterranean diet is not only known for its health benefits but also for its delicious and simple recipes. Incorporating these recipes into your meals can be a great way to enjoy the flavours of the Mediterranean while reaping the rewards of this nutritious eating plan. From fresh salads to hearty soups, there are plenty of tasty ideas to try.

One popular Mediterranean recipe is Greek salad. Made with fresh vegetables like tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers, this colourful dish is packed with vitamins and minerals. Topped with feta cheese and olives, it offers a tangy and salty flavour that perfectly complements the crispness of the vegetables. Drizzle some olive oil and lemon juice over it for a refreshing dressing that brings all the ingredients together.

If you’re looking for something heartier, why not try a classic Italian pasta dish? Spaghetti aglio e olio is a simple yet satisfying recipe that features garlic-infused olive oil tossed with al dente spaghetti. Add some red pepper flakes for a hint of spice, and garnish with parsley or grated Parmesan cheese for an extra burst of flavour. This quick and easy recipe is perfect for busy weeknights when you want something delicious without spending hours in the kitchen.

The Mediterranean Diet and Weight Loss: Can It Help You Shed Those Extra Pounds?

The Mediterranean Diet has gained popularity not only for its delicious and diverse food options but also for its potential to aid in weight loss. While weight loss is a complex process that involves various factors, the Mediterranean Diet can certainly play a role in helping you shed those extra pounds. This diet emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods that are rich in nutrients and low in unhealthy fats and sugars.

One of the reasons why the Mediterranean Diet can be effective for weight loss is because it encourages the consumption of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. These foods are generally lower in calories compared to processed foods and can help you feel fuller for longer periods of time. Additionally, the diet promotes healthy fats such as olive oil and nuts, which provide satiety and can prevent overeating.

Another aspect of the Mediterranean Diet that contributes to weight loss is its focus on mindful eating. This means paying attention to hunger cues, eating slowly, and savouring each bite. By practising mindful eating, you become more aware of your body’s signals of fullness and are less likely to overeat. Furthermore, the social aspect of sharing meals with family or friends can also promote healthier eating habits and portion control.

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