THE proposed Health Services Amendment bill could prompt massive skills flight among health professionals should it be passed into law as it stifles the rights of doctors to exercise their democratic right to protest unfavorable working conditions.
By Michael Gwarisa
In an interview with HealthTimes, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA), acting president, Dr Peter Magombeyi said the proposed bill was draconian and not fit for the 21st century.
The first thing that we want to correct about our honorable minister Obadiah Moyo’s statement is the terminology. Doctors are not on strike, the will to come to work is there, we simply do not have means to do.
“Doctors are simply incapacitate to continue reporting for work. The ZHDA has noted with great concern comments made by the minister of health on air yesterday. In his comments, the minister was focusing on legality issues meant to repress the rights of doctors and we strongly condemn the bill that the minister is advocating for to ban doctors from striking as this legislation does not represent modern labour practices,” said Dr Magombeyi.
He added that the proposed bill seeks to deprive doctors as workers the right to exercise their right strike and collectively table labour disputes.
“The motive of the legislation is to silence the cries of doctors to demand a fair wage and reject exploitation. The bill will cause an unintended severe brain drain with medical personnel seeking alternative and better working conditions in places where professionals are treated with dignity and fairness.”
He also said doctors must be fairly treated as workers who have full labour rights like any worker in Zimbabwe .
“They have a right for collective bargaining and to demand better conditions of services. We therefore reject any attempts meant to interfere with these rights.We remind the Minister that he is expected to come up with policies that are meant to enable doctors as health care providers in discharging their duties, and suggest solutions to that effect.
“We wish to reaffirm that doctors are committed in providing lifesaving services to fellow countrymen. The current economic environment has made it difficult for a majority of our members to attend to their important obligation as doctors .The current salary our members are receiving has lost buying power as it has not been reviewed since the previous year when it was pegged at equilibrium with the USD. The salary has been effectively devalued ten times, leaving us incapacitated.”
Meanwhile, the doctors have dismissed reports that the Health Service Board has finally reviewed our salaries are unverified as such information has not been communicated officially with the ZHDA Executive.
“We would like to make it very clear that we simply don’t have the capacity to report for duty anymore. Unless and until this grievance is dealt with accordingly, we will not be able to resume work. We derive no pleasure in abandoning patients. We call upon the Minister and the employer to find a solution to this impasse before they endanger more lives.”