Govt must address doctors' concerns

HARARE - It is extremely disappointing that junior doctors have gone on strike after talks broke down over new contracts.

Thousands of junior doctors across Zimbabwe walked out after talks with the Health Services Board (HSB) failed to reach an agreement.

This full withdrawal of labour is really sad. As reported in our sister paper, the Daily News yesterday, at Mpilo in Bulawayo for instance, patients are being turned away.

The HSB’s absolute priority must be patient safety and making sure that State hospitals deliver high-quality care seven days a week — and we know that’s what doctors want too.

It is extremely disappointing that the situation has been allowed to virtually destroy hospitals and this has the potential to cause a health disaster of unimaginable scale which will only hit hard the poor.

We implore the HSB and the junior doctors to reconvene talks urgently in the hope this desperate situation is sorted out.

Already, the strike has led to disruption for thousands of patients.

This action comes after the government’s continued failure to address junior doctors’ concerns about the need for robust contractual safeguards on safe working, and proper recognition for those working unsocial.

The parties must reach an agreement on a contract that is good for patients, junior doctors and the HSB.

The doctors last week petitioned HSB chairperson Lovemore Mbengeranwa, Health minister David Parirenyatwa and Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji.

The doctors, who are referred to as junior resident medical officers, claim their contracts of employment are prejudicial to their welfare.

They were supposed to have commenced their duties at the beginning of this month, but have not done so arguing the contracts were not clear on salaries, allowances and non-cash incentives.

After weeks of further negotiations, it is clear that the government is still not taking junior doctors’ concerns seriously.

Furthermore, government has repeatedly dragged its feet throughout this process, and failed to make significant movement during negotiations.

It is extremely disappointing that authorities have failed to break the impasse. Once again patients are being caught in the middle of this bitter dispute.

The impact that this strike is causing is very worrying. All parties in the dispute must remember that their primary duty is to patients.

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