Doctors' strike begins

HARARE - Hundreds of doctors  yesterday downed tools in a bid to push government to improve their conditions of service.

This is the latest time doctors have gone on strike in the protracted dispute over pay and work rules.

Several surgical operations have been cancelled as a result of the walkout by medical professionals, though emergency services were still being provided.

The strike has angered Zimbabweans and turned into a test of President Robert Mugabe’s leadership ahead of an election in 2018.

At Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, waiting patients at the Casualty Section spoke of a critical shortage of staff, with only nurses attending to the sick.

Doctors said an unfair contract could prove to be unsafe for patients.

Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) president Edgar Munatsi said they were not making unreasonable demands.

“We don’t want to subvert anything . . . we want to serve as doctors but we want to serve with the existence of favourable conditions,” Munatsi said.

“And anyway, at the end of the day, it’s the patients that benefit from a better service delivery.”

The strike follows recommendations gathered from nationwide consultations and a petition served to the Health minister David Parirenyatwa and the Health Services Board more than two weeks ago.

Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZiMA) — a professional body of medical doctors — said they do not condone the strike action by health workers and will do all it can to quickly resolve this unfortunate situation.

“Regrettably, the strike has started. It shouldn’t have come to this as this problem was brought to the minister’s attention last year in May,” ZiMA tweeted.

Some of their demands include that all doctors who have completed internship must never have their contracts of employment terminated.  This means  doctors can no longer be employed by the government after two years of internship due to the fact that the government does not have money.

The government recently announced it has instituted a hiring freeze on new doctors. The doctors are saying if the government is unable to hire them, then it should give the doctors open practicing certificates to allow them to find employment elsewhere.

They also want the current on-call allowance to be revised upwards to a minimum of $720 for the lowest paid doctor.

They also want the government to honour its word to subsidise purchase of cars and the Health Services Board to urgently implement the agreed vehicle duty-free framework.

Speaking to the Daily News last week, Parirenyatwa said he “always tries hard to look at the interests of all our doctors so that patients’ welfare is not jeopardised”.

He said he was prepared to meet obligations pertaining to doctors’ welfare, working closely with the Finance ministry.     

Comments (1)

Very sad news indeed. Even shameful that in other countries like RSA efforts are made to ensure buying a car is a normal, affordable process just like buying a TV set whilst in Zimbabwe its like buying an aeroplane!!----

Sagitarr - 20 February 2017

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