Zimbabwe’s major hospitals have stopped emergency lifesaving procedures after doctors went on strike demanding better work conditions and a salary review.
The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) Wednesday accused the government of failing to resolve the dispute, two weeks since junior and middle level doctors opted for a work boycott.
“We note with concern the closure of almost all central hospitals, children’s units, provincial hospitals and cessation throughout the country,” ZHDA said in a statement.
“We place this failure directly on the heels of (Health and Childcare minister) Dr (David) Parirenyatwa and the Health Services Board who have shown disinterest and lack of urgency in resolving the demands of the striking doctors.”
The doctors are demanding a review of their on-call allowances, loans to buy cars and the restocking of hospitals with drugs and other medical accessories.
Dr Parirenyatwa at the weekend said the government had acceded to the demands, but ZHDA said the claims were false.
“The Health Services Board and minister have not been forthcoming to resolve the issues raised by the ZHDA members to date,” the doctors added.
“Instead, they have engaged in deliberate misinformation of the public using the state media and resorted to a failed strategy of issuing legally void threats to the striking doctors.
“This, in our view, is a sign of failure and must be immediately followed by resignation of the entire Health Services Board and the minister of Health.”
Junior doctors in Zimbabwe earn an average of $329 and the job boycotts have become an annual event.
Meanwhile, senior nurses on Wednesday also announced that they would be going on strike with their own grievances.
However, the doctors said their job action was not linked to that of nurses or paramedics.
“Meetings with higher authorities are being sought and all members are encouraged to remain resolute and duty bound to restore the dignity of the doctors’ profession,” ZHDA said.
“The ZHDA is recalling all the doctors we had instructed to remain at their stations to cover for emergencies.
“This in effect implies that from tomorrow, day 14 of the strike all consultants, registrars, district medical officers and general medical officers are now formally joining the strike.”
The doctors said they would only return to work when all their grievances were resolved.
Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has suffered from chronic underfunding and a serious brain drain for the past two decades, leaving hospitals without essential drugs.