Patients' relatives join doctors' protest

HARARE - Public hospitals doctors yesterday staged another strike at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals (PGH), which was joined by patients’ relatives, upholding their demands for better remuneration, among other demands to government.

This comes as the striking doctors have refused to report for duty despite interventions by authorities — Health minister David Parirenyatwa, President Emmerson Mnangagwa and vice president Constantino Chiwenga — insisting government must first put its promises in writing.

The health professionals — striking for the third time in three years over the same concerns — sang carrying placards emblazoned “Doctors care ministry does not, Called to serve not to suffer, We can’t all fly to Singapore, Chikuru kufema but tinofema sei tisina oxygen and Ndozvisungirira akasaenda Parirenyatwa”, among other messages.

Amid yesterday’s protest, which was joined by some affected patients’ relatives, senior and junior doctors marched to Health Services Board (HSB) offices and demanded that its chairperson Lovemore Mbengeranwa to resign.

Spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) Mxolisi Ngwenya, yesterday confirmed that patients’ relatives joined the protest.

“Some of the people protesting here are relatives of affected patients, who are fed up with the lack of essential drugs and dilapidated equipment,” he said.

Ngwenya added: “Doctors also marched to Ambuka Pharmacy, a pharmacy in the hospital believed to be owned by the Parirenyatwa chief executive Thomas Zigora. They stated that they suspect conflict of interest including misdirection of hospital drugs and deliberate faulty ordering to boost his pharmacy.

“They demanded its closure with immediate effect. Patients’ relatives joined in and sang along, protesting that the pharmacy is a cash only facility and charges double the normal price for medication. They also demanded the firing of Parirenyatwa.”

Ngwenya raised alarm that ZHDA members were worried about patients, especially approaching Easter Holiday.

“There is a rumour that government intends to fire all doctors on or before March 30, and to enslave recently graduated doctors. They are conducting decentralised interviews at every hospital, a move meant to intimidate the incoming doctors.”

Last week Chiwenga who was acting president, met consultants representing doctors and agreed to resolve the myriad issues that sparked the industrial action three weeks ago.

He said every doctor on industrial action would get their full salary after rescinding a letter from the Health ministry advising cessation of salaries for those who had downed their tools.

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