HEALTH minister David Parirenyatwa yesterday said the issue of the striking government doctors had now been referred to the President’s Office after negotiations between the Health Services Board and Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association ended in a deadlock.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Parirenyatwa, in a ministerial statement issued in both Houses, appealed to government to prioritise the health sector, saying patients were bearing the brunt of the month-long industrial action.
“We have now reached a critical stage, but this has now escalated to higher offices and we hope that this impasse can be solved soon,” he said.
“As a ministry, we believe that the real victim is the patient and we need to prioritise the health sector and try and ring-fence health so that it is accorded the priority it deserves.”
He also disclosed that the doctor-patient ratio in the country stood at 1: 250 000, which he said was unsustainable.
Parirenyatwa said more doctors were withdrawing their services demanding that their on-call allowances be increased from the current $360 per month to $1 500, among other allowances.
He said some of the contentious issues included payment of outstanding locums, regrading of doctors, long working hours and vehicle loans, among others.
Buhera South MP Joseph Chinotimba said government must increase the $10 million vehicle loan scheme offered to all health personnel to $100 million.
In the Senate, Chief Fortune Charumbira pleaded with government to urgently improve the doctors’ working conditions.
“For example, the training of magistrates and doctors differs, yet magistrates got Ford Ranger vehicles and doctors are walking, yet their training is intensive. I really think that our health sector professionals are underpaid. They should be remunerated well,” he said.
Parirenyatwa declined to disclose the doctors’ salary levels, saying he needed to go and check the figures.