Govt priorities warped: Doctors

Govt priorities warped: Doctors

Source: Govt priorities warped: Doctors – DailyNews Live

Helen Kadirire      12 March 2018

HARARE – Doctors have accused government of ignoring their welfare while
instead opting to push for the Public Health Amendment Bill.

During a Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
discussion between parliamentarians and medical practitioners last week,
doctors argued their welfare must come first.

This comes as the on-going doctors’ strike has reached nearly one week,
with the medical practitioners demanding better working conditions,
duty-free cars and a salary increment.

“Parliamentarians are silent over medical care providers taking over
service delivery and this is impoverishing doctors and nurses resulting in
brain drain. This has also resulted in doctors going on strike,” ZADHR

“The doctors’ strike is more urgent than legislators running around
amending a law. Parliamentarians should humble themselves and address the
plight of the doctors first because people who are dying are actually our
relatives. But because we are turning a blind eye on them and addressing
1924 issues the strike will continue,” the doctors’ said.

They argued desperate doctors were forced to leave the country, which was
negatively affecting service delivery at public hospitals.

“Our parliamentarians are ignorant and show an eye to false issues. When
it matters the most you hear that government has no money but before you
know it, parliamentarians are flown out of the country using money we
don’t know where it comes from. Can government be serious about the
welfare of healthcare providers first before anything else,” ZADHR said.

Samson Gurupira, a doctor, said as MPs push for the adoption of the Bill,
they must include provision of alternative sourcing of funds.

He argued that while doctors are on strike, there were donors that were
reportedly prepared to pay the demands but were blocked by Health minister
David Parirenyatwa and President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“These donors were stopped because the money they wanted to give was
deemed too much and now they resolved to give us $30 and that is almost an
insult to us.

“The minister should understand that if there are donors who want to pay
us they should be allowed. He should not try to politicise the situation,”
Gurupira said.

Another doctor identified as Tendai said only when government officials
send their children to local hospitals will they start appreciating the
plight of doctors.

He said the minister is never present in Parliament to lobby for the
health sector to be allocated the 15 percent budget disbursement approved
by the Abuja Declaration.

“Let government ministers be treated in the country’s local clinics and
hospitals. Only then will they understand the demands that we are making.
For them our plight is foreign because they do not know what happens in
public hospitals.

“Why would they be concerned when they get better treatment elsewhere,
while we have to scrounge around for basic drugs to treat people,” he

“The Abuja Declaration which we are signatory to is very clear on what the
health sector should get. We should not be fighting to get what is ours
from the National Budget.”

However, chairperson of the health thematic committee, Senator David
Chimhini, said it was not the role of Parliament to disburse funds or come
up with a budget.

He said it was up to Treasury to source the funds then legislators would
debate and lobby to have it increased to reasonable amounts.

“We are very worried about doctors on strike but our role is to go to
Parliament and ask the minister why the doctors are on strike and why he
is failing to comply with his obligations.

“Our role is to represent. When the minister says he does not have
sufficient money, we will tell him to prioritise healthcare first rather
than other issues. We are fighting together with doctors,” he said.

Among some of the doctors complaints is the poor allowances they get, with
$16 monthly rural allowance and $1,50 for on-call allowances.