Govt gets stick for being insensitive, cruel to plight of the sick

HARARE - With the doctors’ strike going on for weeks without any solution in sight, concerned Zimbabweans have blasted government for being confrontational and not amicable to professional negotiations with the medical practitioners.

Apart from the doctors being on strike, nurses have resolved to only come to work for two days per week as they say they cannot afford transport for the whole week.

At major hospitals the sick continue to suffer without any medical attention and several have died as a result.

The mortuaries have also become a health time bomb as there aren’t any doctors clearing the bodies which are now in a decomposing state.

Those patients who need blood or emergency operations have to wait until government thinks over and finally engages the doctors so as to resolve the impasse.

But as people continue to die and suffer, Zimbabweans are fed up!

Social analyst Rashweat Mukundu says the government is being insensitive to the plight of citizens and compromising the health and well-being of thousands.

“Health services are critical and need all attention and the threats to the striking doctors and coercion by authorities is a clear sign of poor leadership and a dearth of ideas.

“The government needs to up its game in negotiating and move away from the culture of threats and intimidation,” said Mukundu

Political analyst MacDonald Lewanika said government needs to act as a responsible employer and pay medical staff fair salaries for fair work, a wage that they can live on and is commensurate with their effort.

“It also needs to act as a responsible ward to its citizens through ensuring that citizens have access to quality and affordable health services.

“As such we cannot just say doctors must go back to work because people are dying, the primary responsibility here lies with government which has to preserve life through ensuring that critical staff like doctors and nurses are able to work comfortably and are well remunerated in a working environment that allows them to provide quality services through the continuum of care.

“Government has to act through engaging with and addressing the medical staff’s legitimate grievances and desist from treating every problem like a nail that needs to be hammered,” said Lewanika.

Political analyst Piers Pigou said: “The government must prioritise this issue over demands of parliamentarians and allocations for devolution. Stabilising the health sector is critical and urgent.”

Election Resource Centre director Tawanda Chimhini said the impasse between government and its employees has become a perennial consequence of deploying half measures to manage a known problem.

“Assuming political power through an election means those in charge commit themselves to sustainably addressing known challenges including the condition of service of its workers.

“Government must change its attitude towards industrial action by all workers, hence respecting their rights. Such a shift in attitude will go a long way in fostering a culture of accountable governance. 

“The action by doctors is only a tip of the iceberg!

“The same appalling conditions being lamented by doctors could be in existence across the entire civil service. If such is the case then government cannot afford to bury its head in the sand by being heavy-handed in dealing with striking doctors.” Chimhini added that failure to deal with doctors by government could easily collapse the country if other sectors decide it is time they also express their disgruntlement.

Crisis Coalition spokesperson Tabani Moyo said the Zanu PF government’s campaign message was that of ensuring high quality and affordable health care.

“This is what it has to offer? Zimbabwe deserves better! The bar was set too low for anyone to fail after Mugabe’s near four-decade rule of Zimbabwe.

“It shows Zimbabwe is on auto pilot and that we are headed for a very bumpy 2019 as all indicators point to a free fall in services including health, education and other social services.

“Zimbabwe needs a broad- based dialogue on the way forward rather than the commandant approach we are witnessing! You can’t commandeer an economy, it only responds to structured economic policies and actions on the ground,” said Moyo.

Lawyer and politician Obert Gutu said doctors and nurses play a very crucial role in the country’s health delivery system.

“It’s catastrophic for the majority of the people’s healthcare if doctors are not reporting for duty due to the on-going industrial action.

“The government should go out of its way to discuss with the doctors’ representatives in order to break the ice.

“Intransigence and stubbornness will only make the ordinary people continue to suffer more because they’re the ones who mostly use public health institutions to access health care.” Gutu said

Adding; “there’s need for careful and empathetic consideration of the doctors’ concerns since most of these concerns are legitimate anyway.

“Many people are dying because of the on-going industrial action by medical doctors. 

“This matter has got to be resolved sooner rather than later.

“Both government and the medical doctors’ representative association should prioritise the welfare and concerns of ordinary Zimbabweans above everything else,” he added.

Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said government needs to be more sensitive to the needs of patients, and to the health personnel who deliver the services to the patients.

“There has to be a balance between government’s determination to protect itself against blame by the citizenry, and the need to be accountable and transparent to the citizens.

“Government has a duty to tell the nation the truth all the time, and find the real solutions based on truths available.”

Shumba said the moment government tries desperately to cover their backs and enter into a defensive mode then they will not find the right solutions.

“They should be more forthcoming to the nation and stop being childish by unnecessarily being defensive when asked to address key issues of the availability of drugs in public hospitals.”

Zimbabwe Network for Economic and Social Transformation (Zinest) said they value the health and well-being of ordinary Zimbabweans.

“We are therefore calling for engagement that can help break this impasse for the good of humanity. Lives cannot continue to be lost and endangered over an issue that can be solved amicably.

“Total economic and social transformation can only be achieved when there is guaranteed access to quality health care for all. Egos should not outweigh the value of human life and the importance of their well-being,” said Zinest chairperson and founder Takemore Mazuruse.

Social analyst Lenox Mhlanga said government should back down from its hard-line position.

“It is evident that the two sides have not found middle ground, and it also seems VP (Constantino) Chiwenga has not been briefed properly. They are not dealing with students but qualified doctors who work under extremely difficult conditions.

“The spirit of coming to the negotiating table should replace that of rule by threats. It is in this spirit that it should be understood that backing down does not mean defeat,” said Mhlanga.

A media practitioner who preferred to remain anonymous said there is clearly a problem with the health service. “Yes, people need medical attention, but how do the doctors give it if they don’t have the medical tools they need? And how can they also do so earning so little? It’s unfair to both parties in this case.

“The government needs to invest in and improve the health sector. Being a doctor is a special skill. You cannot just issue heavy-handed decrees yet don’t take into account the very real problems on the ground.”

Post a comment

Readers are kindly requested to refrain from using abusive, vulgar, racist, tribalistic, sexist, discriminatory and hurtful language when posting their comments on the Daily News website.
Those who transgress this civilised etiquette will be barred from contributing to our online discussions.
- Editor

Your email address will not be shared.