MDC slams govt over doctors’ suspensions

Jacob Mafume

HARARE – The MDC has slammed government’s decision to suspend more than 500 doctors over their strike which has crippled public hospitals and affected major medical procedures across the country.

This comes as provincial medical officers (PMOs) have joined the long strike in solidarity with their colleagues who have been pressing for improved working conditions and to be paid salaries in United States dollars.

Government, through the Health Services Board (HSB), recently suspended 530 doctors for continuing with their strike after the Labour Court made a ruling declaring the industrial action illegal.

HSB suspended doctors for the next 14 days to pave way for investigations into allegations against them.

“The MDC has learnt with shock that the government has suspended at least 500 medical practitioners. This in the face of an already depleted work force in respect of which thousands have flocked out in search of greener pastures.

“In the United Kingdom alone more than 3 000 Zimbabwean doctors are employed there: way more than the total complement in the motherland.

“Issues being raised by the medical practitioners are legitimate and reasonable. The doctors want the ratio between patients and clinical personnel reduced, drugs procured and health facilities improved.

“All these are selfless demands meant to save the lives of Zimbabweans yet the government is happy with a cosmetic appearance of doctors at work while unable to save lives let alone serve the patients,” MDC national spokesperson Jacob Mafume said.

“The scare tactics have angered the profession and every other practitioner initially not part of the industrial action has joined in placing the lives of Zimbabweans in even worse risk.

The government must reverse these suspensions forthwith and negotiate in good faith,” Mafume added.

The doctors will not be paid during the 14-day suspension period and have been banned from visiting hospitals.

The striking doctors are protesting the severe shortages of pharmaceutical drugs at public hospitals — as well as the selling of available drugs in foreign currency by retail pharmacies, the poor state of the country’s hospital infrastructure and their “falling” salaries which they now want the government to pay in foreign currency. – Daily News