By Marcus Mushonga
Harare — The strike by Zimbabwean medical professionals has gravely compromised access to healthcare for the most vulnerable among the population who cannot afford costly alternative service providers.
Medical doctors at state-run hospitals have been on strike in recent weeks.
Nurses at some health institutions have joined them.
In violation of citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights to health care and life, government’s reluctance and failure to resolve the impasse has compounded problems for stranded patients at public-run hospitals.
The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said it held President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government, particularly the Ministry of Health and Child Care as well as the Health Services Board responsible and liable for the dire situation at hospitals, unavailability of services and loss of life.
The rights body lamented government had been slow in responding to the concerns raised by doctors and nurses.
“The state has a responsibility to ensure citizens’ rights to health care are not compromised and should immediately implement measures to resolve the impasse.”
Zimbabwe’s health sector, hailed among the best at independence in 1980, has not been spared the economic problems over the past two decades.
Government has not fully addressed serious consequences brought by the unprecedented exodus of professionals in search of greener pastures.
While the majority of the 16 million population wallows in dejection, an elite seek treatment mostly in South Africa. Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai died of colon cancer in the neighbouring country in February.
Government doctors earn at least US$330 (about R4 000) and have rejected an increment a government offer to double.