MEDICAL doctors could soon be going on another industrial action amidst concerns that government has not been sincere in addressing their demands which were negotiated on during the one month long strike which obtained in March this year, HealthTimes can exclusively reveal.
By Michael Gwarisa
The proposed strike by doctors could plunge the health sector into quandary amidst indications that the industry is already reeling from essential drugs shortages which are being exacerbated by a foreign currency deficit. According to experts, the double crisis could result in a slow genocide as ordinary citizens would fail to access health services.
In an interview with HealthTimes, vice president and spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), Dr Mxolisi Ngwenya said they have already communicated with the Health Services Board (HSB) on their plans to down tools and failure to address their demands would leave them with no choice but to go on strike anytime soon.
“No they have not gone on strike as yet but they (Doctors) have notified us by a formal letter directed to HSB copied to ZHDA of their intention to do so soon. The letter will sail thru anytime this week,” said Dr Ngwenya.
He added that doctors were tired of making the same demands time and again and government has not been sincere at all.
“Its the same issues, drugs, equipment, staffing and now they also want United States Dollars (USD) payment. And no, government has not been sincere. We cant make the same demands over and over.”
Doctors downed tools early this year only to resume operations after they had reached an agreement whereby government agreed to increase rates for on-call allowances for junior doctors from $5 per hour to $7,50 on the basis of a maximum of 160 working hours per month.
The money was supposed to be paid on the rate of $1 200 per month for the junior doctors, part of the agreement read. The offer reviewed the on-call allowances sliding scale rate from the current level of $216 – US504 per month to $720-US1 680 per month, entailing mobilisation of additional resources of around $2,1 million per month.
Night duty allowances were reviewed from $65 to US91 per set of seven days to an unclaimed sliding scale rate from $217 to $303 per month.The standby allowances for nurses stationed in rural areas were also reviewed from the current claimable rate of $72 for a set of seven days to an unclaimable rate of U$240 per month with the maximum standby call-out being a maximum of 14 days per month.
However, reports indicate that government backtracked on their pledges somewhere along the road.