DOCTORS and nurses are disappointed that Vice President Constantino Chiwenga – the new minister of Health and Child Care – is yet to meet them to end their industrial action.
In addition, they say both Chiwenga and new Health permanent secretary, Jasper Chimedza, are taking too long to address the serious challenges plaguing the country’s public health system.
This comes as Zimbabwe is battling to contain the local spread of the lethal coronavirus, which has killed more than 100 people and infected more than 4 000 others.
“We note with dismay that despite recent appointments in the ministry of Health and Child Care, the issue of health workers withdrawing their labour has not been attended to.
“In this regard, there has been no attempt to address workers’ demands as yet through formal engagement, and we still wait for an urgent intervention to end this impasse,” the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) said yesterday.
The nurses further pointed out that the crisis in the health sector meant that people who were seriously ill continued to die in their homes.
“Government has a duty to protect human life and guarantee health services to citizens.
“Whilst we have received reports that some nurses who had been removed from the payroll have since been reinstated, our information shows that there are some who are yet to receive their salaries.
“We urge authorities to return these to the payroll,” Zina added.
“We remain fortified that our demands are reasonable and it is up to our employer to meet them if it wants us back at work.
“Our health and capacitation cannot be negotiated away from us. As always, we thank all our members who have heeded the call to withdraw their labour.
“Until our reasonable demands are met, we maintain the position that no US dollars no work, and no PPE (personal protective equipment) no work,” Zina said further.
On his part, the secretary-general of the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA), Aaron Musara, said they were still waiting for Chiwenga and his ministry to engage them.
“We have no option, except to wait for the government to call us for a meeting,” Musara said.
This comes as both nurses and doctors have been on strike over poor pay and conditions of work.
The health workers have also been pressing for adequate PPE and more testing of people to help manage the spread of Covid-19.
Before Chiwenga’s recent appointment as new Health minister, Zimbabwe had also been operating without a substantive permanent secretary for Health and Child Care.
Contacted for a comment, deputy Health minister John Mangwiro referred questions regarding the ongoing strike to Chimedza – whose phone was not reachable.
“Talk to the permanent secretary, but we want this issue to end soon,” Mangwiro said.
Meanwhile, Harare City Council (HCC) clinics have scaled down operations after most of their staff contracted coronavirus. Out of 42 polyclinics, only six are operating.
HCC health director Prosper Chonzi confirmed the development yesterday.
“We have had to scale down our services in the clinics because we have had challenges with staff turning out to be Covid-19 positive and thus having to be isolated at home.
“At the moment we have six polyclinics that are functioning.
“The main reason for this is the unavailability of staff, especially in the polyclinics where some of them would not have any midwife turning up for duty at night, and that has been creating a lot of problems,” Chonzi told the Daily News.
This comes as more than 300 healthcare workers have been infected with Covid-19 since the country recorded its first case in March this year.
Source | Daily News