Resident physicians in Zimbabwe's state hospitals are back out on strike again, having grown impatient with the rate at which their wages have risen under the national unity government installed in February, with the situation particularly critical in second-city Bulawayo.
Medical sources said that just one consulting physician was available in Bulawayo with most of the country out for the long Heroes Day weekend. More were on hand in Harare, though.
Junior doctors at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo have been out for two weeks, sources said, and their colleagues in the capital joined them last week. The so-called junior doctors receive a total of US$390 a month including a US$220 stipend from a British relief organization.
Dr. Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa, a past president of the Hospital Doctors Association, told reporter Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the unity government, a power-sharing arrangement between the former ruling ZANU-PF party of President Robert Mugabe and the two formations of the former opposition Movement for Democratic Change, is not able to properly support the health care system as donors are chary of Mr. Mugabe.
Health Minister Henry Madzorera professed ignorance about the latest physicians strike but doctors said he told them the government had no money to meet their demands, adding that the minister was angered by their action. Doctors and other health care workers were out on strike from late 2008 through early 2009 even as a cholera epidemic raged.