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

  • Statement on junior doctors strike
    Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR)
    January 10, 2007

    Read also: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition statement on senior doctors' strike
    Read also: Health sector halts as junior doctors strike

    The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights calls upon the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare to take urgent and practical steps to bring the ongoing strike by junior doctors to an end. The strike has severely compromised the standard of healthcare at the country's major referral hospitals since 21 December 2006. Responsibility lies with the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare in liaison with other relevant Government departments to resolve the crisis immediately and prevent further loss of life and unavailability of health care.

    ZADHR deplores the dilatory approach taken by the Ministry regarding the strike. Doctors had been on strike for two weeks before the Minister of Health agreed to meet with them to discuss their grievances. This offhand and disrespectful attitude to the country's up and coming doctors has resulted in 20 years of distress among junior doctors and recurring episodes of industrial action. While protecting human life must remain the first priority, doctors must be granted appropriate remuneration and conditions of work in order to deliver effective health services.

    Furthermore, inability to appropriately address the doctors' legitimate concerns will ultimately lead to increased brain drain in a health sector already crippled by a massive exodus of health professionals. The knock on effect is being felt even now as medical school lecturers, already too few in the face of bloated intakes of students, find it impossible to teach while plugging the gaps in clinical services.

    Maternal and infant care has suffered especially badly during the strike. This is a particular cause for concern as, compared to some regional neighbours, in terms of important health outcomes, Zimbabwe is steadily going downhill and has been doing so since at least 1990. Mortality in children under the age of 5 has been steadily increasing and our maternal mortality (at 1100 per 100,000 live births) is the same as that of Somalia; Uganda's is 880, Zambia's 750. In that context, to actively foster the exodus of junior doctors, those who do the work of taking care of sick mothers and children in central hospitals, by refusing to take them seriously or address their valid concerns will ensure that this disaster only gets worse.

    The responsibility of ensuring that Zimbabweans' rights to health do not remain compromised lies with the government which must take immediate measures to resolve the impasse.

    Visit the ZADHR fact sheet

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