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Strikes and Protests 2007/8 - Doctors and Nurses strikes
Health sector halts as junior doctors continue with strike
in Zimbabwe Coalition
"Dictators ride to and fro upon
tigers which they dare not dismount. And the tigers are getting
hungry." - Winston Churchill
The Zimbabwean health sector has stepped
into quick sand as junior doctors enter the second week of their
job action, demanding improved working conditions and salaries.
The junior doctors who earn a paltry $56 800 a month plus $57 000
in housing, transport and on-call allowances are demanding a basic
salary of $5 million.
The remuneration of doctors is
an insult to the profession considering the cardinal role they play
to save lives. Doctors spend five years in training and a two more
years bond of serving the nation. After such a long period of service
and loyalty, it defies logic to accord these medical practitioners
less than a quarter of the Poverty Datum Line (PDL) which is pegged
at $228 133 as of 12 December 2006 according to the Central Statistical
A visit by the Catalyst editorial team
at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals depicted a disturbing situation
of a multitude of patients awaiting treatment, wincing in agony
in the corridors of the former health giant of the region which
is now reminiscent of a death trap. As the strike persists, people
continue to suffer due to lack of treatment, it is shocking that
the government is pretending as if everything is well by not taking
any interest in addressing the plight of the doctors.
Instead of addressing the salary issues
which have put our country’s health sector on the knife edge, on
the 24th of December 2006, the state security agents
descended the Parirenyatwa grounds threatening doctors to a negotiated
settlement with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.
The Coalition questions the involvement
of state operatives in the running of hospitals. Clearly the issue
at hand is a matter of policy failure which should be addressed
by the relevant ministry, in this case the ministry of health not
political party intelligence officers. The health crisis is not
a political party issue, it is a national issue which should be
solved through a collective process by the stakeholders through
the crafting of a lasting solution.
The report by Zimbabwe’s Health Services
Board of 25 September 2006 painted a gloomy picture of the worsening
impact of brain-drain as a result of poor remuneration and working
conditions. It stated that Zimbabwe is the worst hit in African
by the emigration of professionals. Resultantly five hospitals are
operating on minimal staff. There were just 36 senior doctors where145
are needed, and at the end of 2005 there were 291 primary care nurses
where 2,500 ought to be in place.
The situation is dire and the government
must start taking corrective measures in addressing the plight of
medical practitioners. Failure by the state to do so will result
in more people losing more lives as the government dice with the
nation’s souls. The Crisis in the health sector is just but a tip
of the ice-burg of the governance crisis with has wrecked havoc
in the education, judiciary, agricultural sectors and the economy
Visit the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition fact
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