Protesting nurses under the cosh
We are aghast by reports that at least 50 nurses were injured when the police charged batons and used water cannons on protestors who had attempted to lay siege on the health minister's residence in the capital. That the female protestors should be dispersed in such a violent manner, instead of having their grievances listened to, fills us with dismay, particularly as their demands could easily be addressed peacefully by the minister who had promised them a meeting with the PM, but has not been able to arrange that.
Worse still, following the altercation, cases were filed against 1400 unidentified nurses for "preventing the law enforcers to do their duties." Reportedly, the nurses threw brickbats at the police, which we deplore, when charged with water cannons, but why, we ask, was the situation allowed to reach such a state? Several hundred nurses have been demonstrating since early April following a Public Service Commission circular on March 28, regarding recruitment of nurses which stated that the applicants must be below 36 and have Bachelor of Science degree or diploma in nursing to be eligible for taking the recruitment test. The protestors are demanding that nurses should be recruited based on merit and seniority, and that the prerequisite for the exam discriminates against those who are older. We feel that with an acute shortage of well trained nurses in the country, the new criterion will make the situation worse.
The government should listen to the concerns of the protesting nurses, rather than attempt to silence them through violent means or intimidate them through filing of cases.