Press Statement on the Industrial Action

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) National Executive would like to update the press, members of the public, stakeholders and its members on new developments in the industrial action which has entered its 27th day today.

The Minister of Health and Child Care, Mr O. Moyo and his deputy, Dr J. C. Mangwiro, have misinformed the Acting President General CDGN Chiwenga (Rtd) on the reality of the prevailing situation in the health sector. This act is a poor attempt at covering up their shortcomings in the ministry and running a smear campaign of the doctors. We intend to set the record straight so that members of the public are not misinformed by these individuals in the ministry or health seeking to gain mileage.

1. The junior doctors who initiated the strike and have been suspended are wholly qualified doctors who hold two Bachelor Degrees of Medicine and Surgery (MB & ChB from accredited institutions and have graduated from university. They have undergone five and a half years of intense training including clinical rotations and are not under the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education as the ministry would like the Presidium and the public to believe. The government would not be stating that hospitals are at a standstill after chasing them if these doctors were just students. Students do not treat patient or perform surgery on pregnant women, as this would be inhumane and illegal. Having gone through medical school, the Minister and his deputy should be fully aware of this.

2. The government ceased offering financial assistance to medical students years ago. They did not spend any money in sending our members to school and this was an effort of the parents, guardians and sponsors of our doctors. Moreso, these doctors earn a basic salary of $329 RTGS, and the bulk of their remuneration are extra hours done on call.

3. When we visited NatPharm, we did not see the protective clothing and laboratory machines we requested. Instead we note that some of the medication which was being peddled as stocks was beyond expiry date, and the said consignment has donor drugs which would not be passed for bought drugs to the taxpayer. Furthermore, the minister said the medication was procured two weeks ago, but none has reached our hospitals. We would like to know whether the medication was kept until it expired or was procured “as is,” both of which are acts of sabotage to the nation and the Presidium and the minister should be taken to task.

4. Not only junior doctors are on industrial action, but middle level and senior doctors from central, provincial and district hospitals have joined as the ministry drags its feet. No form of recruitment can replace the already low staffing levels, and stating that the situation is ‘normal’ is an untrue statement.

5. Instead of resolving grievances, the Minister is trying to push constitutional amendments to prevent further strikes. This will enable him to seep on the job as the health sector crumbles, like he has been doing when these grievances were raised in October and he turned a deaf ear.

We are disappointed that the Minister and this team continue to play politics with people’s lives instead of addressing the situation at hand. The Minister, his deputy, and the Health Services Board have failed dismally in their mandate to uphold our fellow countrymen’s health and workers safety.

We hope the Presidium will find a lasting solution to the current impasse for the benefit of our nation. We are ready to offer our services once our grievances have been addressed. We urge the public to steer clear of propaganda and to pray for us as we try to restore sanity to our health sector.

Source: Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA)

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