The Zimbabwean government has turned to its all-weather friend, Cuba, where it is seeking the services of doctors as it attempts to contain endless strikes by medical professionals that have paralyzed the southern African nation’s health sector.
Doctors in Zimbabwe have been on strike since September 3rd this year demanding salary increases, provision of adequate hospital machines and drugs in hospitals and improved working conditions.
Some of the doctors have just started going back to work. Zimbabwe’s Ministry of Health has requested directors at medical institutions at both government and local level to compile a list of Cuban doctors they might need.
Efforts to get a comment from Cuban Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Enrique Antonio Prieo Lopez, were futile as calls to the embassy were not being returned. Zimbabwe sacked nearly 450 striking junior doctors recently, a move which prompted senior doctors to join the industrial action. Zimbabwean authorities say the strike is unlawful.
The government has for years expressed a keen interest in recruiting over 100 specialist doctors from Cuba to fill vacancies in public health institutions. The relationship between Havana and Harare dates back to the days of the country’s liberation struggle in 1978 when Cuba expressed a willingness to support Zimbabwe against the then colonial government of Ian Douglas Smith.
Some towns and council in Zimbabwe have also shown interest in getting Cuban doctors. Chitungwiza Municipality Health Services director and acting Town Clerk Dr. Tonderai Kasu says his local authority will get a compliment of four Cuban doctors.