GOVERNMENT and medical practitioners should speedily negotiate and return the health sector to normalcy so as to to end the unnecessary loss of lives, the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) has warned.
The call comes hot on the heels of an abrupt suspension of more than 500 junior doctors who commenced a strike which today marks its 27th day citing poor living and working conditions which have been exacerbated by poor remuneration and lack of medicines and hospital equipment.
In a statement, ZADHR said it was deeply worried by the Zimbabwean government response to the ongoing doctors strike.
“ZADHR notes with concern the following problematic measures which have been mooted or are being implemented by the Minister of Health, Obidiah Moyo with concurrence by the Health Services Board and Cabinet.
“There has been insinuations from some sections of government that they intend to criminalize industrial actions by health workers. This if put into a law will be a flagrant violation of workers rights,’ sadi ZADHR.
They added that even though health employees should act responsibly to avoid violations of the right to health, the ZADHR does not agree with the heavy handed approach in curtailing health workforce challenges.
“ZADHR urges the Minister of Health to urgently reconstitute the Health Services Board. Their failure to urgently and effectively deal with the perennial doctors strikes is proof enough of their incompetence.Parliament must also amend the Health Services Act so that new, effective and responsive dialogue channels are created.”
The ZADHR also castigated what they termed the “deliberate misinformation” of the nation and country’s leadership on the doctors strike with regards to junior doctors’ credentials and welfare.
“Doctors cease to be medical students the day they pass their fifth year examinations. Another peddled falsehood is that all striking doctors are junior doctors. The current health sector establishment does not provide for five hundred intern doctors . The conduction of honest dialogue between the government and the doctors should be a practical solution to resolving the current dispute,” said ZADHR.
Meanwhile, ZADHR warned that the proposals that were being made such as fast tracking current medical students into graduating, hiring foreign doctors and offering reprieves for those who had failed registration examinations were not long term solutions to the current crisis.
“Government has no capacity to replace the fired five hundred doctors overnight and ZADHR urges restraint on part of government in making such decisions . Dialogue and the proposals of concessions, win – win solutions and selfless decisions must be given a chance.”