WASHINGTON DC —
Industrial action for better wages and working conditions by Zimbabwe's doctors is threatening the country's ability to deal effectively with Ebola, an epidemic that is the largest in history, affecting multiple countries in West Africa.
Zimbabwe has not recorded a single case of Ebola but like all nations in the world it is on high alert and it is expected to be all hands on deck.
The strike started at Parirenyatwa Hospital on Thursday and is said to be spreading to other government hospitals such as Harare Central Hospital and Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo.
The junior doctors are bitter that they were forced to take up one-roomed apartments at the hospital after the cash-strapped government scrapped a $300 housing allowance.
The doctors want the government to increase their salaries to about $1,200 from $800 per month.
The doctors through their lawyers are also demanding that their earnings be revised upwards.
Efforts to get a comment from Health Minister David Parirenyatwa were futile as he did not answer his mobile. But senior officials in the ministry, speaking on condition of anonymity, told VOA Studio 7 that the ministry will deploy army doctors should the situation deteriorate further.
In 2009, the last time the doctors downed tools, army doctors were called in to assist.
Committee member of the Hospital Doctors Association Dr. Nyasha Mtetwa said working conditions at government hospitals have deteriorated.