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Amid typhoid doctors down tools
11/02/2017 00:00:00
by Wendy Muperi I Parliament Correspondent
 
 
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DOCTORS are set to down tools in four days’ time because government reneged on its promises to appoint junior doctors and improve their conditions of service.

The timing of the potentially disastrous strike will coincide with a typhoid outbreak that has already claimed two lives and left over 200 hospitalised.

In a circular dated 10 February, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) national committee and advisory panel advised its members to commence industrial action this coming Wednesday in line with the notice handed to government two weeks ago.

“In light of the recommendations gathered from the nationwide consultations and guided by the notice and petition served to the minister of Health and the Health Service Board (HSB) more than two weeks ago, the association wishes to announce with effect from Wednesday 15 February, there shall be a fully-fledged nationwide industrial action,” read the circular.

“All doctors from the consultant level upwards are advised to cooperate as this historic action will prevent the ensuing cancerous destruction of our profession.”

The doctors have three specific demands which are: “All doctors who have completed internship must never have their contracts of employment terminated or else be given open practicing certificates upon completion of internship.

“The current on call allowance be revised upwards to a minimum of $720 for the lowest paid doctor. The HSB urgently implements the agreed duty free framework for all government doctors.”

The last two were agreed through negotiations with the previous ZHDA executive following a 17-day strike in 2015 into 2016 that left the sector crippled.

Conditions of service for doctors and nurses are poor and the doctors, end of last month, invited their employer to negotiate a deal that would suspend the strike. However, the government appears to have ignored the invite.

“The association is puzzled with the lipstick approach by the ministry of Health to honour the agreed on call allowances with our previous leadership. Our doctors including well trained consultants still travel to work on public transport despite the earlier promise to unveil a motor vehicle duty free facility to the sector.”

With both a growing disease burden and population, doctors in Zimbabwe have become overwhelmed with work. According to the Health ministry deputy minister, “In terms of ratio it is 0.0792 per 1 000 population. To put it more simply, we’ve got less than one doctor for every 250 000 people. The ideal ratio would be to have at least three doctors per every 1 000 patients”.



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Although the ministry claims the doctors being trained are enough, treasury froze employment owing to lack of money.


 
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