The National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has embarked on comprehensive and robust social security and protection mechanisms against the Covid-19 pandemic on employees and organisations as part of efforts to contain the rapid spread of the disease.
NSSA, a State-administered insurance and pension entity, was created by an Act of Parliament of Zimbabwe, through the NSSA Act (Chapter 17:04) of 1989, to enhance social security and protection against the economic and social distress.
NSSA marketing and communications executive Tendai Mutseyekwa told this publication that they had embarked on serious and comprehensive training of nurses and employees pertaining to organisational healthy safety in the context of Covid-19.
“In line with our mandate to promote health and safety at work, we are conducting joint operations with the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare to inspect whether or not companies are complying with Covid-19 guidelines as set by the Ministry of Health and Child Care.
“We also provide training for occupational health nurses and safety and health professionals, as well raise awareness on issues to do with health and safety at work through various media channels,” said Mutseyekwa.
NSSA currently covers four branches of social security and is yet to cover the remaining five branches.
This has also been affected by continuous expansion of a huge informal sector, which is not covered by social security.
Mutseyekwa said organisational health remains a priority in NSSA’s endeavour to cover the inevitable nonetheless.
“As an entity responsible for social security and occupational safety and health, we have put in place measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus by making most of our services available online and reducing the number of employees coming to work at any given time
“We have also designed a health monitoring questionnaire that employees fill each time they come to work. We have set up a Covid-19 response team comprising nurses and doctors to check on our staff by testing those found with the symptoms as well as following up on those infected to ensure that they receive adequate treatment and eventually be able to return to work healthy,” Mutseyekwa said.
Organisational health safety in Zimbabwe came under more intense spotlight in recent months following the spread of coronavirus.
Some analysts are convinced that the initiative by NSSA will go a long way in complimenting the African Union Sustainable Development Goal number three which focuses on good health and wellbeing through health insurance, medical aid schemes and workmanship compensation, accidents and injuries, disability, and high cost of medication.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president Dr Enock Dongo said social security protection mechanisms in face of pandemics should be holistic, comprehensive and goal-oriented.
He implored medical aid insurance companies to enhance their response to organisational health safety against Covid-19 by appreciating loss of incomes to employees and organisations.
“Medical aid societies play a vital role in enhancing public and organisational health. They are therefore expected to be innovative enough to prepare on how to fight pandemics.
“The monthly premiums from policy holders naturally increase, with those of individual policy holders sometimes doubling up. This further strains them yet that individual has been contributing so much over a course of time,” said Dongo.
Some policy holders said they too were worried by the erosion of the value of their policies in light of the highly inflationary economic environment compounded by the pandemic.
“Our organisations are failing to give us the service we expect in the event of a risk because of this hyperinflationary environment. I have worked for this organisation for many years contributing my premiums, but most employees are carrying the burden of topping up to service providers in case of need,” said one policy holder.
Dr Grace Muradzikwa, who is a commissioner with the Insurance and Pension Commission (IPEC) said Covid-19 was indeed impacting on the performance of the sector.
“The circumstances have impacted on the ability of organisations to effectively manage social security and protection of employees from work related risks. Reduced disposable income owing to company closures, retrenchments and lack of formal employment opportunities have seen organisations accumulating arrears of $887 million in premium arrears,” said Muradzikwa.