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  • Strikes and Protests 2007/8 - Doctors and Nurses strikes

  • Health sector halts as junior doctors continue with strike
    Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition
    January 10, 2007

    "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 Office

    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 at large.

    Visit the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition fact sheet

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