SENIOR doctors yesterday downed tools, joining nurses who have been on strike for more than 40 days, a move that will add a strain to the country’s already paralysed healthcare system.
The strike came after doctors this week rejected a government plea for them to shelve their job action demanding protective clothing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association president Shingai Nyaguse said the Health ministry was not taking their concerns seriously.
“It’s unfortunate that we keep going round in circles and that the Health ministry has taken such a lackadaisical attitude firstly towards the nurses and now to issues raised by senior doctors,” Ngaguse said.
“We cannot keep endangering ourselves. When the ministry decides to take their mandate seriously, we are more than happy to engage and help them deliver health services to the nation.”
The doctors said they were disappointed by the response from their employer.
“It was our hope that there would be some attempt by the government to meet the requests made by doctors which we believe to be very valid and necessary in enabling reasonable service delivery,” the letter by doctors to Health acting secretary Gibson Mhlanga read.
The doctors had previously reached out to the government asking for basic personal protective equipment (PPE) and salaries in United States dollars.
However, government in response pleaded with senior doctors to remain on duty and argued that their strike was ill-timed as more local cases of COVID-19 were being reported daily.
Mhlanga said the issue of PPE was being addressed, but doctors were not convinced.
“The procurement and distribution of PPE is a continuous process and not an event as the consumption rate is very high,” Mhlanga said earlier this week.
But the doctors said they were disappointed by government’s response.
“Since the status quo is going to persist, we regret to advise that our members will now proceed with the work stoppage until it is safe and fair to return to our posts,” the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said.
The doctors also said they hoped government would reconsider its position in the interest of patients.
Mhlanga referred all questions to acting Health minister Amon Murwira, who was not reachable.