Medical consultants and registrars at state hospitals in Zimbabwe have threatened to go on strike if President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government does not address striking junior and senior doctors’ grievances, which include payment of salaries in United States dollars, provision of equipment and drugs, revival of a vehicle loan scheme and other issues.
The consultants and registrars, affiliated to the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA), told reporters in Harare that they have given the government 48 hours to address the striking doctors’ concerns or face a crippling industrial action.
Dr. Sacrifice Chirisa, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, said, “… ZIMA is grieved with the process since the 1st of December to date and what’s grieving us the most is that it is the general public that is suffering, our patients that we have cared for, that we have prescribed medicines, that we booked for operations, that need our care that are suffering the most.
“We want to say that as ZIMA we feel and are fully persuaded that the issues that our counterparts, let me say that our fellow doctors, these are not students, these are doctors, the issues that they have brought to the fore for consideration are genuine.”
He said the situation at public health institutions is no longer tenable following the junior and middle level doctors’ industrial action.
“We stand with the junior doctors in seeking a speedy resolution of these matters. Therefore we are urging HSB (Health Service Board) to resolve this impasse within the next 48 hours. Consultants have been working very hard under these very difficult circumstances and will not be able to continue beyond the stated time period.”
Dr. Chirisa urged HSB to table the doctors’ grievances instead of suspending them. “We believe the door to dialogue must never be closed and we hope the HSB considers this statement in the good spirit it has been delivered.”
Striking doctors’ representative Dr. Mthabisi Bhebhe, secretary general of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association, said doctors have vowed to continue their strike until their grievances are met even if they have been suspended by the HSB for participating in an industrial action declared illegal by the Labor Court.
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga lashed out at the striking doctors Thursday saying those that are on strike are in a wrong profession, adding that they should be disciplined for engaging in a so-called illegal strike.
The same doctors went on strike early this year after making similar demands. The government promised to address their needs, a promise it never fulfilled.