Govt must recommit to supporting health sector

THE story of the Zimbabwean health professionals is a heart-breaking one. Doctors and nurses have intermittently downed tools for close to a year. One can imagine the effect the strikes have had on an almost comatose health sector, where the country’s bourgeoisie leaders have little or no regard for them.

It must be tough for not only health professionals, but even the parents whose children today aspire to be doctors or nurses in the prevailing environment.

Tough it is for journalists even whose role is to mirror society. In this toxic environment, media workers are always accused of being unpatriotic. But patriotism is the ability to constructively criticise a bad system to right its wrongs.

We believe our government should make its priorities right — health, economy, education, agriculture, corruption and remove all the toxicity among the people on the basis of politics.

Instead of antagonising citizens and its opponents, President Emmerson Mnangagwa should build confidence in the majority. He’s President of all of the country’s citizens.

He must be fatherly and deal with zealots in his system bent on destroying every inch of what he’s trying to build as his legacy for the country.

It is time to work together and get the positive stories out there as an obligation and not by force when it is clear that government continues to further its misplaced priorities and being on the warpath with all its citizens for having a different opinion.

Thus, we call on government to relook into the health crisis prevailing in the country. What is even heart-breaking is the fact that with the strike at public hospitals at major referral centres in Harare, Bulawayo and other key centres Zimbabwe becomes just one major hospital.

If Vice-President and Health minister Constantino Chiwenga cannot see that we are really in trouble, if anybody doubted that the country is in a “shit-hole”, we are not sure what will.

The Chinese have during the past year donated personal protective equipment (PPE) to government, yet the nurses do not have anything to protect them against infection while carrying out their duties. Where has it gone? Who is responsible for its distribution? Why should it not be right for the nurses to demand the PPE given the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic? How do they give their all without PPE?

In all fairness even without the donations, government should simply provide tools of the trade to the health service sector. Failure to do so is dereliction of duty of the highest order. If Zimbabwe had strong institutions like it is elsewhere then other arms of government would demand answers, and the culprit/s would be charged for a serious offence.

The fact that seven staff members and 15 patients had tested positive for COVID-19 at one of Harare’s largest referral centre — Sally Mugabe Hospital maternity wing — due to lack of PPE is an indictment on the part of the Health ministry.

This situation sadly mirrors what obtains across the country.

We strongly condemn government for paying lip service to the health sector’s genuine demands. It is time for the State to recalibrate its commitment towards taking good care of the welfare of health workers.

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