Fears mount over hospital closures as more Zim doctors join strike

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Middle-level doctors at Zimbabwe’s Mpilo and Chitungwiza Central Hospitals have joined the industrial action started by junior doctors, defying government which has called the action illegal.

“As Health Medical Officers (HMOs) at Mpilo Central Hospital, we hereby confirm to your office(s) that we have reached the conclusion of stopping discharging our services in view of the ongoing industrial action by other doctors … We are also in total agreement that the grievances raised in the industrial action are genuine and hence require urgent attention,” Mpilo HMO representative Dr Ziyera said in a notice to the hospital administration.

A similar notice was signed by doctors at Chitungwiza Central Hospital.

A health professional at Mpilo, located in Zimbabwe’s second city of Bulawayo, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals, said the move would effectively cripple the hospitals.

“There is no way a hospital can run safely without junior doctors. Government needs to come to the table quickly, otherwise the hospital will just close because the only doctors left are the consultants,” she said.

“For every 20 junior doctors, there are five or so medical officers and just one consultant. You can’t have the work in a hospital done without junior doctors and without the experience of middle-level doctors. The consultants would not cope.”

The doctors are demanding improvements in their working conditions and a review of their low salaries. They also want the government to address the lack of basic medicines and equipment at health facilities countrywide.