WASHINGTON D.C. —
Mpilo Central Hospital, one of Zimbabwe’s largest referral hospitals, shut down its Outpatient Department last week following industrial action by junior doctors.
Clinical director Dr. Solwayo Ngwenya, confirmed the development but played down the effects of the strike saying the institution will reopen Tuesday.
The hospital, which caters mainly for the southern region - Bulawayo, Midlands, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and South provinces - is also a training institution for doctors and nurses.
Those affected are mainly chronic ailment patients and others referred from various districts.
As the ongoing impasse between the Health Services Board and junior doctors over their contracts continues, the only doctor who was manning the department is said to have quit.
The Outpatient Department is expected to be open for business Tuesday though doctors said they were not going to sign the contracts.
The Health Services Board has just availed a contract for the junior doctors indicating that they will get a total salary package of $895 per month, including allowances, but the doctors have vowed not to take it arguing that it violates their rights as workers.
Studio 7 failed to reach Hospital Doctors Association president Fortune Nyamande and the health ministry for a comment.
The doctors are demanding, among other issues, clarity in their contracts relating to matters like repeating college classes and the period a lady doctor should be on maternity leave.
But Movement for Democratic Change spokesman Obert Gutu told VOA Studio 7 that the government should just give in to the doctors’ demands as it was the ordinary people who were now suffering.
“As a labour-backed party we are very, very concerned by the reluctance by the Zanu PF government to give in to the very reasonable demands that are actually being put across by the junior doctors,” Gutu said.
Gutu added that the junior doctors literally work their socks off for peanuts. He said his party is inclined towards protecting the interests of the workers, and these junior doctors need to be treated well.
“So we call upon the government to seriously look into their very reasonable demands.”