By NQOBANI NDLOVU
THE Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has cast doubt on government’s offer to capacitate local authority clinics that are overwhelmed by patients after doctors at State institutions downed tools last month.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo on Monday said plans were afoot to capacitate council clinics in Harare and Bulawayo in the wake of a strike action by doctors that has crippled operations at central hospitals.
Moyo said this was a “provisional” arrangement to ensure patients are attended to at council clinics after failing to access healthcare services at central hospitals. Public hospital doctors have been on strike for over a month.
BCC health director Edwin Sibanda on Tuesday told Southern Eye that council’s health personnel were now forced to perform some procedures normally carried out at hospitals owing to the ongoing doctors’ strike.
“I do not have the statistics, but I will have to check the figures for the month. However, what I know is that we have had challenges with patients we would have transferred to central hospitals.
“We have had them coming back after failing to access health services at hospital. That is a challenge we are seeing, and this is forcing our members to perform duties that, under normal circumstances, are carried out at hospitals,” Sibanda said, adding that the council had not received any government help to date.
Mayor Solomon Mguni added: “We have been standing on our own in terms of ensuring that we have necessary stocks of what we need at our clinics. However, that (government assistance) would be a welcome development if it is well planned and there are proper engagements before implementation.”
Contacted for comment yesterday on when the government assistance to local authorities would start, the Health minister promised to avail the information through a statement, but had not done so at the time of going to print.
On Monday, Moyo told a Press conference in Harare that: “We have planned that we will empower the hospitals belonging to local authorities, especially in Harare and Bulawayo and give them as much support as possible because they are becoming overwhelmed.”
The Labour Court on Friday ruled the doctors’ strike illegal, before calling on them to return to work within 48 hours. However, the doctors have pleaded incapacitation to report for duty.