Civil Society Condemns Zimbabwe’s Paralysing Health Strike

By Marcus Mushonga

Harare — Zimbabwean civil society organisations (CSOs) have appealed to the government to urgently address the grave dire situation facing hospitals as a result of a lengthy strike by doctors.

The organisations bemoaned that the current deadlock between government and the professionals, now in its fifth week, triggered loss of life and was an affront to the citizens’ right to healthcare, dignity and life.

Doctors are demanding better salaries and improved working conditions.

“We have assessed the unpleasant situation on the ground at the different public hospitals around the country and note with great concern the deteriorating situation which is now a national crisis,” the nine CSOs jointly stated.

They maintained concern at the closure of some wards at referral hospitals due to lack of adequate personnel as a result of the strike.

The situation is negatively impacting on strides made by Zimbabwe to contain maternal mortality, manage chronic illnesses and contain the spread of water borne diseases recurring in the urban areas.

CSOs warned efforts by the government to engage inexperienced graduates from medical schools with limited practical exposure was “very dangerous” and put the lives of patients at risk.

They lamented the allocation of 8,9 percent of the 2019 national budget to health, which is way below the 15 percent as provided in the Abuja Declaration.

“This is unacceptable and will not improve the precarious situation in the public health institutions.”

Inadequate financing has over the years crippled critical hospital functions, provision of essential medicines, availability of protective clothing for health personnel and equipment.

Meanwhile the striking doctors have agreed to return to work within 48 hours following meeting held under the auspices of the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP), which sought to improve conditions of service including a duty free vehicle import scheme.

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