DOCTORS at public hospitals have threatened to down tools on Wednesday in protest over government’s failure to honour its pledge to appoint junior doctors and improve their conditions of service.
Source: Doctors moot fresh strike – NewsDay Zimbabwe February 13, 2017
NEWS AGENCIES/STAFF REPORTER
But, Health minister David Parirenyatwa yesterday said: “I am always happy to meet and discuss with my doctors and discuss with them and see what best we can do without compromising the health of our patients.
“They are always free to come and discuss, but I am not interested to talk to them through the Press. And in terms of finances, we always engage the Finance ministry.”
The timing of the potentially disastrous strike coincides with a typhoid outbreak that has already claimed two lives and left over 200 hospitalised.
In a circular dated February 10, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) national committee and advisory panel advised its members to commence industrial action on Wednesday in line with the notice handed to government two weeks ago.
“In light of the recommendations gathered from the nationwide consultations and guided by the notice and petition served to the Health minister and the Health Service Board (HSB) more than two weeks ago, the association wishes to announce with effect from February 15, there shall be a fully-fledged nationwide industrial action,” the circular read.
“All doctors from the consultant level upwards are advised to co-operate, as this historic action will prevent the ensuing cancerous destruction of our profession.”
The doctors have three specific demands, which are: “All doctors, who have completed internship must never have their contracts of employment terminated or else be given open practising certificates upon completion of their internship.
“The current on-call allowance be revised upwards to a minimum of $720 for the lowest paid doctor. The HSB urgently implements the agreed duty-free (car imports) framework for all government doctors.”
The last two were agreed through negotiations with the previous ZHDA executive, following a 17-day strike in 2015 into 2016 that left the sector crippled.
Conditions of service for doctors and nurses are poor and the doctors, end of last month, invited their employer to negotiate a deal that would suspend the strike.
“The association is puzzled with the lipstick approach, by the Health ministry, to honour the agreed on call allowances with our previous leadership. Our doctors, including well-trained consultants, still travel to work on public transport despite the earlier promise to unveil a motor vehicle duty-free facility to the sector.”
Faced with a growing disease burden and population, doctors in Zimbabwe have become overwhelmed with work.
According to the Health ministry deputy minister Aldrin Musiiwa said: “In terms of ratio it is 0,0792 per 1 000 population. To put it more simply, we’ve got less than one doctor for every 250 000 people. The ideal ratio would be to have at least three doctors per every 1 000 patients”.