Striking doctors vow to continue action, public hospitals turn patients away

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HARARE: Doctors at public hospitals that have been on strike for the past two weeks on Wednesday vowed to continue with the action until their grievances are addressed.

The doctors downed tools two weeks ago demanding better pay and working conditions.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said doctors and other staff members who had remained at hospitals attending to emergency cases had been recalled to join the strike.

“We will only return to work when all issues raised by the ZHDA have been fully resolved,” the ZHDA said in a statement Wednesday.

The doctors said they note with concern the closure of almost all central hospitals, children’s units, provincial hospitals and cessation of emergency life-saving procedures throughout the country but blame this on government’s failure to address their demands.

Among others, the doctors are demanding that the government should fulfill its promise made four years ago to increase doctors’ on-call allowance to 10 U.S. dollars an hour from the current 1.5.

They also want government to provide sufficient drugs and equipment at the public hospitals.

The strike is the first major job action by public workers since the new administration led by President Emmerson Mnangagwa took over last November following the resignation of Robert Mugabe.

As a result of close to years of economic decline, Zimbabwe’s public health system has deteriorated significantly with brain drain, poor working conditions and shortage of drugs and equipment among the major challenges.