Doctors defy government orders

THE Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) has vowed not to call off the industrial action which began on December 1, until their demands for better pay and more drugs in State hospitals are resolved.

BY VANESSA GONYE

Speaking at a Press conference in Harare yesterday, ZHDA secretary-general Mthabisi Bhebhe dismissed calls made by government on Tuesday for them to return to work while their issues were to being attended to.

“It’s very unfortunate that we are entering the second week (of the strike) and nothing has been done, and it’s obvious that the grievances we have raised with our employer have not been addressed.

If it was the case, doctors would have gone back to work,” he said.

“We believe it is the duty of our employer to take care of his employees and these are the issues we are willing to discuss with our employer, but it’s unfortunate that our employer is not forthcoming, and we are left wondering what is going to happen next.”

Bhebhe said they had two meetings with their employer and are troubled by government’s lack of seriousness in resolving the issues.

He said negotiations were being deliberately delayed and done in bad faith.

“We are worried about the grievances that have been raised; they are genuine and we are waiting for answers … Our worry is that the response we are supposed to get is being delayed.

The situation has spread to provincial hospitals, and district hospitals have joined as well,” he said.

“If you visit any hospital right now, you will notice the effect of the industrial action; nothing is happening; doctors are not there.

They are waiting for the employer to address the grievances affecting them and the patient.”

“We are aware of reports that there has been a $25 million grant for drugs that has been secured.

The honest issue is there is no medication in hospitals, and when we did further investigations on the matter, the drugs are still in India.

The timeframe when they will be available is not known.”

Bhebhe said their strike would continue until they had tangible results.

“The grievances by doctors have been presented to the ministry countless times.

What is being and has been waited for is action on the part of the ministry to solve the impasse.

To this end, doctors will remain on industrial action until such a time practical and convincing solutions are provided to mitigate avoidable morbidity and mortality among patients,” Bhebhe said in a statement.

Nurses at Parirenyatwa and Harare Central hospitals told NewsDay that most wards had few patients and that admissions were limited to life-threatening cases only, since doctors were not reporting for duty.

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