Call for Action to Avert Humanitarian Disaster in Zimbabwe

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) notes with great concern that the major hospitals in Zimbabwe have not been functioning for the thirty-four consecutive days. This hospital shutdown has been a result of incapacitation amongst government employed doctors due to declining purchasing parity power and erosion of the meagre salaries by hyperinflation. The lowest paid junior doctor was as of September 2019, earning an average of eighty USD. Negotiations between the government of Zimbabwe and our association (ZHDA) have not been fruitful. Innocent lives continue to be lost; avoidable morbidity continues to ransack our patients and vulnerable groups such as neonates, geriatrics, pregnant women and the disables continue to bear the brunt of the deadlock. The Government of Zimbabwe (GoZ) has not been forthcoming to address the legitimate concerns raised by the ZHDA. Instead, they have responded with salary cuts, intimidation and threats of disciplinary action or dismissals.

On the other hand, ZHDA remains open for honest, mutual and constructive dialogue with the GoZ that they will result in the speedy resolution of this humanitarian crisis. The ZHDA restates its minimum demand of salary that is commensurate with the last collective bargaining agreement salary scales at the existing official interbank rates. In respect of the need to save patients’ lives, ZHDA has shelved other demands linked to their conditions of service and will follow up on them with the passage of time. In this same reasoning, the ZHDA calls upon the GoZ to make similar concessions by availing a reasonable living wage to Zimbabwean hospitals. The majority of the Zimbabwean population relies on government hospitals for health care as they cannot afford private hospitals. For example, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals receives about 23 000 patients monthly, with 5300 requiring emergency casualty services. The central government hospitals act as the hub for scarce specialist services and are also training the centres of doctors, nurses and other health professionals. This current crisis if not resolved urgently will have wide and far reaching consequences to the health care delivery system in Zimbabwe.

Efforts to get statistics of the current mortality at the hospitals were fruitless but it is clear that most patients are dying without being attended to. With no solution to this silent genocide in Zimbabwean government hospitals in sight, the ZHDA has resolved to reach out to businesses, community, churches, development organizations, the diaspora and all concerned citizens to help in setting up a fund that can capacitate our doctors. Lives are being lost and there is need to urgently raise resources to supplement for the salaries of the 1800 government employed doctors.

The ZHDA also calls upon the World Health Organization (WHO), and related United Nations Agencies to help both in mobilizing resources and brokering a lasting solution to the perennial health strikes in Zimbabwe. We reaffirm our commitment to providing quality health care to all Zimbabweans as soon as decent living wage is guaranteed. We further call upon the WHO and UN Agencies to monitor the unfolding crisis in Zimbabwean hospitals.

Further correspondence on how the crowd funding initiative can be set up may be directly made to the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association via email at zhdaofficial@gmail.com

Source: The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA)