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Zim doctors form splinter group as strike differences widen

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By Robert Tapfumaneyi

A GROUP of doctors has split from the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) which organised the crippling four-month strike over poor wages with many locals dying in hospitals because of the absence of the critical health staff.

The newly formed group calls itself Progressive Doctors Association of Zimbabwe (PDAZ).

Speaking at the launch of the association in Harare Saturday, inaugural president of the group, Benson Dandira said they were not going to continue watching patients being turned away from health care facilities and succumbing to preventable deaths.

The group also said members were prepared to meet with their employers (government) and resolve the current impasse with doctors.

Dandira said the new group’s membership now stands at 200.

“We call them patients; they are fellow countrymen, and they are our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters,” he said.

“Before we label them patients, they are Zimbabweans, as you and I are, each day passes, a breadwinner is taken away from his or her family due to avoidable conditions.

“The result of the current situation is a widow, a widower or an orphan; we cannot simply stand by and feign ignorance or cast a blind eye or deaf ear to these atrocities.

“As PDAZ, we stand for patients’ welfare. We are here to advocate for our patients with much empathy and sympathy for them and their families who are left to deal with challenges that follow, particularly secondary to these economic hardships that have not spared a single soul in this country.”

PDAZ said its membership is apolitical.

“Ours is an apolitical association, we owe our allegiance and service to the profession and our patients,” Dandira said.

“We do not belong to any political party, business or individuals; it is by remaining neutral that as PDAZ can restore dignity and order to the profession.

“We seek to bring back the ethos of fruitful and faithful negotiations between government and doctors and hopefully end the current chaos in our hospitals.”

The PDAZ leader said as doctors, the world they created over the past few months left a lot to be desired.

“We have seen unfolding of undesirable events in the nation’s health sector. Today, Sunday marks 103 days of the ongoing doctors’ incapacitation that began 3rd September,” he said.

“Our consciences are heavy and our hearts are bleeding, our people keep suffering unnecessarily and are dying from preventable diseases.”

PDAZ said their employers should now make it easy for them to work in the country’s health institutions.

“We, therefore, call upon our employer to seriously look into the doctors’ welfare, not only in terms of remuneration, but to approach it more holistically to ensure that the doctor can offer their services without having to worry about other confounding factors such as accommodation, transport to and from work, daily living expenses as they are too human and have social responsibilities and obligations to fulfil.”

Since going on strike, Zimbabwean doctors have adamantly refused government wage review offers, something that has led to the sacking of over 400 of them and the withholding of their wages by authorities.

The medical practitioners, under their militant ZHDA, have vowed they will not return to work if government did not accept their demands for US dollar wages or the local currency equivalent pegged against the prevailing interbank rates.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa Friday accused the doctors of being bribed by hostile forces to maintain their siege on his government.