Doctors strike: Unions warn of deaths

via Doctors strike: Unions warn of deaths – New Zimbabwe 24/11/2015

THE industrial action at the Premier Service Medical Aid Society, (PSMAS) subsidiary Premier Service Medical Investment entered its second day Tuesday with no end in sight.

While authorities said they were working around the clock to resolve the impasse, civil servants representatives warned of unnecessary deaths and called on Public Service Minister Prisca Mupfumira to “pay up”.

Government owes PSMAS almost a $100 million while the health insurer, in turn, owes PSMI $44 million in unpaid subscription.

PSMI has been unable to pay its workers in the past five months despite government having deducted subscriptions from its workers, sources said.

Operations at PSMI facilities have, in the past two days, ground to a halt.

“Everything has stopped, the doctors, pharmacists and dentist have not reported for work and we have had to shut doors,” a source claimed.

PSMAS board chairperson, Jeremiah Bvirindi, said his board is working hard towards a solution.

“Most of our business comes from government and we deal with civil servants but they have over the last half year received services almost for free because government has failed to pay.

“We are engaging government to find a solution and sooner rather than later this will pass. We have plans in place including a plan B and C,” Bvirindi said.

Government must pay

Insiders claimed Bvirindi’s board might be facing sabotage from Mupfumira after it rebuffed her demands to have suspended PSMAS managing director Henry Mandishona re-instated.

Zimbabwe Teachers Association (Zimta) chief executive officer, Sifiso Ndlovu, said Mupfumira must pay and keep her hands off company affairs.

“There are people with terminal and chronic illnesses that are life threatening. These need to be considered,” said Ndlovu.

“Any interference will compromise the independence of not only the institution but also its jurisprudence. The minister must stay away but pay to save lives.”

He said his association’s membership has been affected severely by the wild-cat strike.

An Apex Council member David Dzatsunga said there could be unaccounted for deaths due to the strike.

“It has caused a lot of pain and suffering as well as obvious deaths although this is not immediately quantifiable,” he said.

“At the moment it because almost impossible to apportion blame to anyone but government because the bulk of the PSMAS revenue comes from the state.

“We are aware government is struggling with revenue but we have a situation of life and death and this needs to be a priority.”