Health sector woes need urgent solution

HARARE - The circus in the health sector — by far one of the most critical ones in any country — is depressing to say the least.

What is surprising is that government had threatened not to pay the striking doctors. As the employer, government is entitled to its opinion but denying the doctors salaries is a bit on the extreme and borders on being inhumane.

Perhaps pursuing the path of open unconditional dialogue, besides reflecting sincerity, would have shown government’s willingness to solve the doctors’ problems.

It does not seem promising, especially when viewed against the backdrop of the deafening silence that had hitherto characterised government’s response strategy. This was not helping the suffering patients in any way as the avoidable loss of precious lives continues as a direct result of the obtaining strike.

Zimbabweans are conscious of the overtures of consultants who met with acting President Constantino Chiwenga as well as Vice President Kembo Mohadi to try and find a solution to the impasse, but still there is no need for bureaucracy in trying to right the challenges bedevilling the sector.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) has since hailed the overtures but has demanded that the promises made by government be put in writing as they continued picketing at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals. The ZHDA comprises mainly junior and middle-level doctors working in State-run hospitals.

The industrial action has paralysed operations at the country’s major referral centres mainly Harare Central Hospital, Mpilo Central and Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and clearly, it is the ordinary Zimbabweans who are suffering the most, as those who can afford medical insurance have the option of visiting private medical institutions if the need arises.

While everybody is aware of the paucity of resources in State coffers, one would still assume that health matters would be right at the top of the country’s priorities.

Besides low morale, under-staffed government hospitals also suffer perennial shortages of equipment and essential drugs. One of the demands of the striking doctors has to do with basic equipment used in their job, which they allege is inadequate.

Last year, major referral hospitals suspended a number of services as a result of the shortage of drugs, including painkillers — exposing how much things have fallen apart in the country since the early 2000s.

Going forward, there is need to prioritise the health sector when allocating resources because it remains a critical sector that has to be fully resourced.


Comments (1)

...the issue of a functioning health delivery system, provision of food, water, and responsive governance. the prevention of the spread of diseases and unhealthy living conditions should not become areas of debate and unending bargaining causing loss of life and untold suffering. It is incumbent on those in authority to bring about speedy resolution to the recurrent and perennial doctors strike specifically and similar industrial in the public service generally.

Mike Dhliwayo - 31 March 2018

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