THE opposition MDC-T party and health activists have condemned the alleged harassment of striking doctors by State agents.
Obert Gutu, the MDC-T national spokesperson, said doctors have a right to demonstrate against government’s insensitivity to their plight.
“At a time when President Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle always travel to Singapore, India and some other such far – way places for the purpose of seeking their personal medical treatment, the Zanu PF regime is showing complete and utter disregard for the plight of our striking medical doctors,” said Gutu.
“Instead, we have since gathered reports to the effect that the striking medical doctors are now being threatened and victimised by State agents.
“This is a most reprehensible and despicable act being perpetrated by a cruel, insensitive, selfish and insipidly corrupt regime in the form of the clueless and visionless Zanu PF administration.”
The strike by the medics entered day two this Thursday and the doctors’ demands include increasing of on-call allowances from $288 to $720 as well as allowing them to import vehicles duty-free.
“All public hospitals in Zimbabwe have been virtually paralyzed by the ongoing industrial action and it is the majority poor who are bearing the brunt of this strike,” said Gutu.
“Patients are stranded and in fact, there is preventable loss of life that is taking place in our various public health institutions because there are no medical doctors to attend to patients.
“Those patients who are in need of critical care are most at risk.”
The Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) concurred with MDC-T sentiments, calling on government to prioritise the striking workforce.
“ZADHR therefore calls upon the Ministry of Health and Child Care to urgently improve the conditions of work for health professionals instead of issuing threats of ostracisation and victimization and to ensure that essential drugs and medicines are provided in all public health institutions,” said health rights lobby group.
During previous strikes, government threatened to withhold certificates of practice of the previous executive of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, accusing them of inciting fellow doctors to strike.
Meanwhile, the Community Working Group on Health encouraged government to honour its promises to avert making patients the casualties of inefficient leadership.
“It is surprising that the (health ministry) has now offered to open up 250 new posts for junior doctors and 2,000 for nurses when it has not fulfilled last year’s promises to the same doctors.
“The doctors’ skepticism could be justified as it looks like gimmick to buy time considering previous unfulfilled assurances,” said the organisation’s director Itai Rusike.
Health is a fundamental right but its enjoyment in Zimbabwe continues to be curtailed by serious underfunding.
Critics feel the sector is not being prioritised by a government whose leaders seek medical attention in foreign lands.