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Zimbabwe Doctors Planning Crippling Strike

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Zimbabwean doctors are planning to go on a nationwide strike Saturday due to “severe incapacitation” to perform their duties, low salaries and failure to address previous demands, including the provision of basic health materials in state hospitals.

In a statement dated November 30 and signed by the Doctors National Committee, comprising top doctors in government health institutions, the health workers said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government needs to take swift action to avoid a prolonged industrial action.

“On behalf of our membership, we hereby bring to your attention that doctors nationwide have agreed to engage into an industrial action as result of severe incapacitation and inability to withstand the current disabling working environment.

“The Ministry is also reminded that a number of concerns have been raised in our letters, dated as back as 22 October 2018, regarding the deteriorating state of the Healthcare system in the country. It is regrettable therefore to note that as a result of failure on the part of the Ministry to urgently attend to these challenges; doctors are now finding it impossible to continue discharging their services in hospitals.”

The doctors, in the statement addressed to the Ministry of Health, said acute shortages of fuel and an increase in transport costs have worsened the situation resulting in the incapacitation of healthcare personnel to urgently attend to their duties.

They said the government should with immediate effect address shortages of vital medicines and basic theatre consumables, private pharmacies’ demands for clients to pay in United States dollars and the rejection of medical aid.

Other issues that need urgent address, said the doctors, includes, “undefined and prolonged working hours, leaving healthcare workers overburdened and fatigued, understaffed work force, inadequate remunerations in Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) in place of United States dollars as stipulated in our previous binding agreements, reevaluation of the vehicle loan scheme to assist healthcare workers with transportation and increase of the on call allowance to 10 USD/hour.

“It is our hope that the above grievances are immediately addressed with all honesty in the shortest period possible to avoid unnecessarily prolonged interruption of life saving services.”

Junior doctors recently went on strike making similar demands and they were joined by nurses and other healthcare workers.

Health Minister Obadiah Moyo was not reacheable on his mobile phone for comment. – VOA