Senior doctors embark on strike

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Sindiso Mhlophe

SENIOR doctors working in public hospitals have downed tools over the government’s failure to address their grievances, including poor remuneration and lack of adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) in the wake of the lethal coronavirus.

This comes despite the government’s plea to doctors to reconsider their threat to go on strike and to be patient as it works towards procuring adequate PPE and medicines.
Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) secretary-general Aaron Musara told the Daily News yesterday that the government’s plea was not accompanied by real and practical solutions to doctors’ challenges, hence they resolved to go on strike until their grievances were addressed.
“We gave the government a two-week strike notice indicating the challenges that we are facing as doctors and nothing was done to address these challenges. The Health ministry’s acting permanent secretary Gibson Mhlanga wrote to us on Wednesday and asked us not to go on strike without giving tangible solutions on how the government is going to address our challenges.
“As such, our members were not happy about this and a decision was reached to proceed with the strike as planned.
“It’s sad that things have turned out this way because nothing much was happening in hospitals given that nurses and other health workers have been on strike for over a month. The situation has just worsened,” Musara said.
This also comes at a time when the country is grappling with the coronavirus with confirmed cases nearing 3 000.
More than 323 health workers, including nurses, have contracted Covid-19 since the beginning of the outbreak in March as local infections continue to rocket.
Musara further revealed that the doctors’ other grievances include lack of supporting staff and non-payment of University of Zimbabwe lecturers and medical doctors.
“There is no adequate PPE in hospitals. We have raised this issue with the government for a very long time and nothing has been done to address the matter.
“Doctors are exposed to the coronavirus and this means their families and communities are also exposed.
“In addition, nurses and other critical health workers who offer supporting services to doctors are on strike.
“Doctors don’t work alone, they need support from nurses to offer proper healthcare,” Musara said.
Musara added that doctors were willing to engage in dialogue with the government, but on condition that genuine commitment is made to address the longstanding grievances.
Junior doctors have also given a two-week strike notice to the government over poor remuneration and unavailability of PPE.
Health and Child Care deputy minister John Mangwiro referred this publication to the Health Services Board chairperson Paulinus Sikhosana who said: “I have no comment with regards to this issue because I haven’t received any communication on the doctors’ final position.”

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