The strike by doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe is affecting many poverty-stricken Zimbabweans as patients seeking state medical help at government hospitals cannot afford to pay consultations fees of up to $30 per person charged by private practitioners.
It’s 3pm at Parirenyatwa Hospital in Zimbabwe, stretchers carrying critically-ill patients are lined up at the Observation Ward, their relatives watching them in despair.
Doctors and nurses have engaged in an industrial action over unpaid salaries. Patients are taking a long time to get medical help.
The queue is long and winding and moving very slowly. More patients are joining the ever-lengthening queue. Some patients are saying they have witnessed others dying in the queues though this cannot be confirmed by hospital authorities. The situation is dire.
Patrick Kagura, who has been in the hospital queue, for almost two days, told Studio 7 he witnessed some patients dying while waiting to get medical help.
“There are many people in the queue and many people are dying, but there is nobody, no doctor, no help since yesterday. The whole day yesterday then the whole night and up to this hour now.”
Another patient, Robert Ganyani, told Studio 7 he now fears for his life as he has learnt that two people lost their lives in the queue while waiting for a doctor.
Ganyani said, “When we came here in the morning some people here told us two people had died while in the queue before they got attended to. Some of them needed urgent treatment but doctors were not here to attend to them. Here you can look at the situation here. Some are critically ill.
"They might face the same situation. The situation is bad. We urge government to prioritise health so that people can get treatment. Lives are being lost.”
Harare resident, Bradley Shonhai, added that the government should address the dire situation in order to curb the loss of lives.
“The situation is so bad and people are not being attended to on time. It is a burden to patients. I came here about 10am and now it’s 3:20pm we are still in the queue waiting to be attended to. Government should put more money to hospitals and increase staff so that whenever a patient comes they are attended to quickly”
Zimbabwean doctors and nurses said they are too incapacitated to go to work as the government has not yet paid their December salaries. While they are fighting to get their pay, patients are said to be dying in queues at general hospitals.