Slow start to junior doctors' strike

HARARE - Junior doctors started their stay-away at all central hospitals in Zimbabwe yesterday, but with minimal impact on most state facilities around the country.

About a dozen striking doctors were seen whiling away time drinking beer, with some reading newspapers and chatting outside their institutional residences when the Daily News crew visited Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals yesterday morning.

Inside the normally busy hospitals, patients were being attended to by senior doctors and a few junior doctors who chose to ignore the stay away call. The same atmosphere prevailed at Harare Hospital.



RELAXING: Some of the striking junior doctors outside their hostels at Parirenyatwa Hospital. Pic: Wendy Muperi

Initiated by Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) with a membership of around 400 doctors, the strike was ignited by the expiry of a two-week ultimatum issued to government through the ministry of Health and Child Care.

The junior doctors are demanding improvements in their conditions of service, including a minimum salary of $1 200 from the current $280.

ZDHA president Fortune Nyamande argues that what they are demanding is half of what is earned by their counterparts in the region.

Paul Chimedza, the Health and Child Care deputy minister, declined to comment yesterday.

The Hospital Service Board has since branded the strike “illegal”.

Doctors at Mpilo, United Bulawayo Hospitals and Chitungwiza hospitals also withdrew their labour.

According to Nyamande, the doctors have responded well to the call.

“I think from the indications we got, the turnout has been very huge,” he said. “The response to the strike is overwhelming. The reports we are getting show that about 95 percent took heed of our call.

“We are about 80 or 90 at Parirenyatwa. In every basket, there are bad apples. Like here, there are about five or six doctors who are going to work. At Harare (Hospital), about three doctors are going to work, UBH, Mpilo we are not really sure of the numbers but the response is very good.”

Responding to a question on how the strike has affected patients, Nyamande said:

“It is pathetic that persons who would have been referred to the hospitals and are being sent away. All we want is to have an environment where we can serve patients to the best of our ability.”

Junior resident medical officers, senior resident medical officers and senior housemen officers are among those who have downed their tools, leaving the already constrained hospitals in quandary.

The call for a salary review comes as government is struggling to foot its current wage bill.

Nyamande said the doctors are determined to ensure their grievances are addressed before they can go back to work.

“I think the message that has been sent to government is that doctors will not budge to any form of pressure,” he said. “We want them to review our working conditions. We want them to review our salaries. This is a struggle that we are prepared to take to the bitter end.”

According to the doctors, no negotiations had commenced as of yesterday.

“They (employers) have been trying to send some emissaries through some indirect means so I do not want to comment on that,” he said. “What we cannot do is persuade them to come to the negotiating table. We just withdraw our services and they are critical.”

The hospitals are currently running on senior doctors, consultants and a few junior doctors who did not heed the strike call.

ZHDA secretary general Farai Makoni said for every senior doctor, there are about six junior doctors under him “they do not come every day, sometimes it is once in two weeks”.

Comments (4)

Cde Minister its time you rise to the ocassion,our doctors are seemingly,the lowest paid in the region.working hard in a Ministry that was rocked by scandals.Remember the Premier medical aid scandal

carson Macate - 28 October 2014

Whatever happens in our beautiful and rich country one needs to be optimistic about the opportunities available. we need to look beyond politics and plan ahead. start your own business. @ Flixcom Solutions we will help you register a company from scratch and help you register with the relevant authorities like Zimra, Ministry of finance etc. We also offer bookeeping and accounting services. Call us 0771 419 294 or 0776 228 760 email flixcomsol@gmail.com

flixcom solutions - 28 October 2014

i dont think its the ministry only but every one in that government they are biz pushing their political personal intrest at the expense of the ordinary zimbabweans. honestly you cant pay a doctor $280 just becoz is a junior while you pay student nurses over $300. As zimbabwe we are not setting our priorities well coz we cant be seen going around doing the so called thank you rally and kunopinda misa kuitari moti hamuna mari yekupa doctor mari haaaa apa ndoona chibhakera chacho chakundika pekurova pacho

DR DISGRACE - 29 October 2014

A Senior Journalist in one of those countries from the Great Lakes region was also charged for reporting and inciting violence in the Tutsi/Hutu genocide that took place some years ago. In reference to this, I'm with those who are calling for the Minister to be also charged should he keep acting like nothing is happening and yet people are dying from not being attended to by the striking doctors.

Dr Know - 29 October 2014

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