Senior doctors working at state-owned hospitals have downed their tools demanding the immediate reinstatement of 435 junior doctors, who were fired by the government for going on a nationwide strike that has paralyzed hospitals.
In a statement, members of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) said they were worried about the dismissal of the junior doctors who went on strike on September 3rd this year demanding salaries equivalent to interbank rates.
“We have noted with grave concern the wanton dismissal of over 435 doctors, the continued summoning of doctors for disciplinary hearing and the withholding of the paltry salaries for the doctors. The SHDA had continued to engage the employer in dialogue whilst the hostilities on its members was continuing unabated. Of note is these actions have not capacitated either the hospitals or the human resource base.”
The senior doctors said they were downing their tools as a result of the intimidation of their juniors, who defied a court order to go back to work claiming that they are too incapacitated to do so due to low salaries and lack of equipment in state hospitals.
In the letter addressed to the clinical director of Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and copied to the Ministry of Health, the doctors noted that all sacked junior doctors should be reinstated with immediate effect.
“We regret to inform you that the SHDA has agreed with its members who had remained behind offering emergency services to the hospitals that we are no longer able to offer any emergencies as from the 26th of November 2019, 1400 hours until all the fired doctors are reinstated and there is adequate redress of their incapacitation.”
THE SHDA said they have also noted that patients are suffering in state hospitals due to the firing of junior doctors and lack of proper equipment and other basic necessities.
“We also took note of the continued poor outcomes on the patients being attended to … We will no longer be able to offer any services until the matters that we have raised are urgently addressed.”
According to the Zimbabwe Health Service Board, the government employs roughly 1,550 doctors and specialists in public hospitals serving the southern African country of 14 million.
Doctors have complained that their salaries – less than US$200 a month for juniors – barely cover their living expenses amid the country’s protracted economic crisis.
Almost all of the 524 junior doctors went on strike. There are 220 consultants and 818 middle level doctors working in state-owned hospitals.
Health Minister Obadiah Moyo told a post-cabinet media briefing that he was not aware of the strike by senior doctors and said the government would continue its disciplinary action against those who were boycotting work, according to Reuters.
Moyo said the government would this week post advertisements to fill vacancies left by the sacked doctors. However, Zimbabwe already has a shortage of doctors, with many having gone abroad to seek better opportunities.