THE strike by public hospital doctors in Bulawayo clocked two weeks yesterday, with the health professionals vowing to continue with their industrial action until government has addressed their demands for better working conditions.
BY SINDISO DUBE/ NQOBANI NDLOVU
The doctors, drawn from United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) and Mpilo Central Hospital yesterday gathered at UBH’s main car park where they denounced management of buying themselves luxury vehicles without providing adequate drugs for the patients.
They also accused Health minister David Parirenyatwa of ignoring their concerns, even after a series of engagements.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association Matabeleland representative, Kevin Kusano, said they would continue to demonstrate until the ministry addressed them.
“We are going to demonstrate everyday until they hear us (ministry). If they don’t respond quickly, we will take the demonstrations even to Parliament and to Parirenyatwa’s office,” he said.
“It’s hard to deliver when we are understaffed and forced to buy our own equipment to save lives from our small pockets. Currently, UBH has only two doctors attending to emergency cases and those two will soon join us in the strike and demonstration.”
The doctors accused the government of failing to improve staffing levels, procure adequate hospital equipment and essential drugs to allow them to provide quality service to patients at district and central hospitals.
“Our conditions here are poor, we are the poorest and under-resourced doctors in the region. Imagine we only get only $350 per month. We need the government to improve our state so that we continue to save lives,” Kusano said.
However UBH chief executive officer, Nonhlanhla Ndlovu downplayed the demonstration.
“We have 65% of our doctors on duty and those on strike are junior doctors. Yes the strike has a great effect towards our work as junior doctors do most of the work, but we are handling the situation,” she said.
Ndlovu said this after ZHDA recalled all doctors who were covering emergencies and demanded Parirenyatwa and the Health Services Board to resign.
“We note with concern the closure of almost all central hospitals, children’s units, provincial hospitals and cessation of emergency lifesaving procedures throughout the country. We place this failure directly on the heels of Dr Parirenyatwa and the Health Services Board …” ZHDA said in a statement, adding that all consultants, registrars, district medical officers and general medical officers had also joined the strike.
Meanwhile, Community Working Group on Health (CWGH) director Itai Rusike said government should adequately address doctors’ concerns to avoid the suffering and deaths of patients.
“The absence of doctors in health institutions at a time there are frequent outbreaks of diseases such as typhoid and cholera as well as shortages of medicines of chronic illnesses means more deaths of ordinary Zimbabwe without medical insurance cover and rely on a functional public health delivery system,” he said.