THE 40 days long industrial action by medical doctors has officially come to an end following government’s commitment to address the doctors grievances.
By Michael Gwarisa and Kudakwashe Pembere
In an official statement by the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), they confirmed the development and called on all doctors who had downed tools to resume their work.
“ZHDA is delighted to inform the membership, members of the press and public that the industrial action by doctors in Government hospitals has come to an end.
“It has been 40 straight days since doctors embarked on an industrial action citing various grievances that were and are crippling health service delivery in public institutions. The industrial action was meant to remind and send a clear message to the relevant authorities that the health care sector in the country was deteriorating and hence the need for urgent interventions,” said ZHDA.
The doctors’ strike ends at a time when there is still disgruntlement by the doctors over issues which include payment of salaries in USD among other issues. The doctors association however commended government for making efforts to meet some of their demands.
“It is therefore important to appreciate that, the MOHCC has made commitments with its employees to address these crippling factors and we can only hope that these commitments would be implemented in all honesty at the correct time frame and as agreed, for the benefit of our patients and the country as a whole.
“We further state that it should not take 40 days with doctors on industrial action for the Ministry Of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) to act and restore normal service delivery in government health institutions. Therefore, there is a need of consistent and continuous engagements between doctors and the MOHCC to avoid unnecessary interruption of service delivery.”
Putting the strike to a grinding halt, doctors itching to see the the Health Ministry’s seriousness in writing said an agreement was reached to see the unfreezing of critical posts.
“The MOHCC has committed in writing that it will consistently improve supply of medicines, medical and surgical sundries in public health facilities. It was further agreed that there is going to be unfreezing of critical posts for doctors across Central, Provincial and District Hospitals.
“We hope these promises will be fulfilled with urgency, as it has been the culture of the Health Service Board to go back on agreements before. We also continue to negotiate on outstanding issues like remuneration and working hours, and we hope we find common ground soon,” said the doctors.
The doctors said challenges are not absolved by strikes but dialogue.
“Industrial action by doctors should not be the only language that brings about improvement in drug supply and conditions of service. Good dialogue, transparency, honesty and accountability should be incorporated to provide a platform that improves service delivery,” ZHDA said.