The strike by doctors and nurses across the country threatens to ground the entire public health delivery system to a halt and stain Emmerson Mnangagwa’s pubescent presidency, if quick interventions are not made to arrest the problem.
This clearly shows that the country is gravitating towards a humanitarian crisis of unparalleled proportions given the poor state of the health delivery system in this country — poor health facilities and high cost of health services.
It is not the first time that doctors, nurses and others in the health sector have gone on strike, but each time these health professionals downed their tools it is the majority poor who have borne the brunt of their actions.
Yet, Health minister, David Parirenyatwa is conspicuous by his absence, Zimbabweans wonder if there is anything being done to curtail the full-blown strike which is to the detriment of the majority. We have also not heard from Mnangagwa about what he’s doing to deal with this crisis.
If truth be told, the salaries and allowances that public health workers are getting are nothing to write home about, and given the nature of their work and their self-sacrifices, there’s no doubt that their grievances ought to be addressed without delay — otherwise massive deaths are expected across all public health institutions.
This is one of the major challenges that Mnangagwa’s regime has to deal with head-on, especially, given the visit by MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa to Parirenyatwa and Harare Central Hospitals to assess the situation this week.
As the elections draw closer, health care delivery and stemming the state of decadence in the sector will certainly be one of the areas of major contention. Parirenyatwa’s lethargic attitude in dealing with the situation at hand no doubt gives the opposition MDC-T leader Chamisa an opportunity to clearly articulate his party plans to deal with this recurrent problem, should they be elected into government.
The fact that nurses, patients and visitors stampeded to catch a glimpse of the opposition leader, as he toured the health facilities on Thursday demonstrated that there is a lot of public goodwill that he can take advantage of.
This is one of the critical areas in which the opposition can score points ahead of the elections, if they can articulately communicate their health delivery policy and what they intend to do, to arrest the rot in the public health sector should they come into power.
It is, therefore, critical for Mnangagwa to communicate the way forward concerning how they are addressing this rot and ensure that the health sector is pulled off the life support system and become functional again.
Zimbabwe cannot be open for business when the population cannot access basic health services. It is such a mockery to give a doctor $300. It is time to act. We must go beyond mere talk!