Doctors, nurses strike devastating

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THE country’s teetering health sector, reeling from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and an economic crunch as with all other areas of the economy, came to a grinding halt last week after doctors, nurses and other health workers downed tools demanding better remuneration.

Health workers rejected in toto the government review of civil servants’ salaries by 50 percent in local currency and a US$75 coronavirus monthly allowance. They are demanding to be paid in United

States dollars and have vowed never to return to work until their grievances are met.

Reports from the country’s major health centres paint a bleak situation for patients and the ordinary folk, with no solution in sight.

Health workers have over the years demanded a review of their salaries to match that of their colleagues in the Sadc region. They also want their on-call allowances reviewed. But our government has done very little on that score.

It is worrying that the industrial action is taking place at a time the country is battling with the Covid-19 pandemic. What is more worrying is that cases of the killer disease are on the rise. At the weekend two more people lost their lives to the pandemic, making them six since the outbreak of the disease in the country in March.

The country needs doctors, nurses and other workers at clinics and hospitals to contain the spread of the deadly disease.

It is too ghastly to contemplate what the country will become if the pandemic is allowed to spread because patients cannot be attended to due to the current industrial action.

We are hoping that the government and healthcare workers will look at the strike with the urgency it deserves because it concerns the safety and health of the public.

The Health Services Board, which employs healthcare workers, must urgently engage its employees to find a way forward. Any procrastination will have devastating consequences to the country.

It is common cause that the government is broke, but it must at least show compassion to our healthcare workers by providing a decent income and attendant benefits.

What is worrying is that their bosses at the Health Services Board drive posh vehicles and recently awarded themselves obscene allowances at the expense of the toiling doctors and nurses. Such kind of greed is intolerable and unacceptable! It is the height of duplicity!

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