The circular, purportedly prepared by the Health Service Board, has irked doctors and the general public who felt that it tantamounted to militarising the health sector.
Masvingo Senator Tichinani Mavetera (MDC Alliance) on Thursday asked Health deputy minister John Mangwiro during Senate’s question-and-answer session to explain how they came up with the circular to militarise the medical profession and the latter professed ignorance over the conscription order.
“We heard that of the current 230 medical students that are graduating this year, the Ministry of Health is not going to recruit them, and that they will be recruited by the Ministry of Defence. What arrangements is the Health ministry going to put in place to ensure that we are not going to have a gap where junior doctors are deployed to the Defence ministry and there are no doctors at rural clinics? We are also forcing all junior doctors to join the army whether they like it or not,” Mavetera said.
He added: “We also heard that some graduate student doctors have been prohibited from visiting State or government hospitals after they were expelled and yet they are central to the health delivery in this country and trainee doctors provide more than 60% of the workforce.”
Mangwiro responded: “I do not know anything about the circular you are purporting came from the Ministry of Health. I spoke to the Health Service Board because they are the ones that are supposed to be giving out such a circular and we are going to get more details from them.
“As of now, we spoke to the Health ministry secretary (Jasper Chimedza) and he was oblivious of where that letter came from. So we will get a detailed and clarified position from him because the Ministry of Health is not the one that deploys those cadres, it is the Health Service Board that does so.”
He said student doctors were under the Ministry of Higher Education, which he said was the one that could adequately give an explanation on their situation.