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

  • ZIMCET statement on doctors strike
    Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET)
    January 13, 2007

    The Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) would like to express dismay over the unattended to prolonged strike by junior doctors. Junior doctors are currently on an industrial action which is in its fifth week demanding better working conditions and remuneration which are commensurate with the importance of the work they are rendering to the nation. If history is to repeat itself, then nurses will join the strike in the near future and the obvious support from senior doctors (consultants) towards the junior doctors' plight will obviously witness the total collapse of the health delivery system.

    ZIMCET strongly believes that Peace is more than just the mere absence of war as it goes down to the root of people's survival in communities. There is absence of peace among the doctors and moreso for the patients who are failing to get medical attention which is a basic human right. Their right to health is being compromised and the government is failing to protect this fundamental right by ensuring that there is a conducive environment for that right to be fully enjoyed.

    Granted, the doctors are justified to press for better working conditions and remuneration but we call on the government and doctors to seek an amicable solution at the earliest opportunity. The striking culture has become endemic in the country as the health professionals resort to downing tools on a yearly basis as a way to call on the government to be sensitive to their plight. ZIMCET urges the two parties to seek and achieve a lasting solution to the perennial problem through sustained dialogue. There is need for dialogue to amicably iron out the sticky issues so that a win-win situation is achieved. The Minister of Health and Child Welfare did not help matters by telling the doctors that they are were trainees and as such they should be informed that they had no right to strike. He added that the government would be looking at the grievances but made it abundantly clear that the doctors' demands might be difficult to meet.

    Patients are being turned away from the major referrals hospitals where only emergency cases are being attended to. This flies in the face of the medical ethics as enshrined in the Hippocratic Oath which upholds the sanctity of human life but the doctors are rightly arguing that they can not work on empty stomachs. Newspapers are awash with reports of people who risk losing their lives due the lack of medical attention. Large numbers of patients are being turned away and being discharged from hospitals as part of a strategic downsizing exercise meant to contain the strike's drastic effects. On the other end the government, through the Minister of Health and Child Welfare, have been urging the doctors to end the strike while their grievances are being looked into but avoiding making concrete assurances.

    Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust calls upon the disputing parties to come to the negotiating table so that the peaceful solution is arrived at soon and cut on the number of people who continue to lose lives unnecessarily. There definitely should be a way to address the impasse and probably through a Presidential intervention.

    Visit ZIMCET's fact sheet

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