Holistic approach needed in the health sector

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition calls on the Government of Zimbabwe to apply a holistic approach in dealing with the ongoing impasse with medical doctors. The strike, which started with junior doctors downing their tools resulted in General Medical Doctors, District Medical Officers and Provincial Medical Officers also joining the job action.

As a coalition, we are worried that the impasse, if not dealt with, will likely trigger similar job actions by other health professionals such as nurses who work closely with doctors.

We believe that a holistic approach will address major concerns in the health sector which is currently faced with a major industrial action by doctors and also struggling to cope with the health demands of the citizens due to shortages in essential drugs and equipment.

We note that, a functional healthcare system that caters for the needs of all citizens is the cornerstone of a prosperous country. The impasse in the social services sector is therefore of great concern and has potentially grave consequences given the centrality of the services offered by medical sector employees and leaves the country and citizens vulnerable to diseases and medical conditions that can be averted.

The government should note that the right to health is protected by the Zimbabwean constitution, which states in Section 76 (1) that “Every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has the right to have access to basic health-care services, including reproductive health-care services”.

Provision of adequate resources to improve the working conditions of all health personnel to boost morale and bring back empathy and caring to the healthcare profession must be a priority. The rights of health workers must be respected including the right to collective bargaining and the freedom of association.

We therefore, implore the government to desist from employing commandist tactics in dealing with employee demands.

The state must invest in upgrading the country’s health infrastructure including the expansion of health facilities such as clinics and hospitals. This must also include the installation of state of the art health equipment and provision of essential drugs and medicines and an accelerated programme for training and retaining health personnel.

Health training facilities including university teaching hospitals must also be upgraded while grants should be provided for students undergoing training in critical health professions. The referral system needs to be vastly revamped by ensuring that district and provincial hospitals are adequately funded so that they are able to respond to most health cases.

A rights-based approach to healthcare financing has to be adopted to ensure that government allocates a minimum per capita budget to healthcare in line with international best practice, which will be equitably distributed across the country.

As a coalition, we continue to stand in solidarity with members of the health profession as we believe that their demands, if addressed, will ensure that Zimbabwe’s health delivery will improve.

Source: Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition

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