President Mnangagwa’s meeting with representatives of medical doctors should be the beginning of a good working relationship for both the Government and the medical fraternity while putting to rest a litany of challenges that have been bedevilling the health sector for some time.
The most important thing is that the meeting removes suspicion and replaces it with a shared vision.
The meeting that was arranged by First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa, who is also the Ambassador of Health and Child Care, puts to rest assertions that the Government was turning a blind eye to problems within the health sector.
Some of the problems included under-staffing, lack of equipment and drugs in some of the country’s major public health institutions.
However, that will soon be a thing of the past after President Mnangagwa promised to equip hospitals, as a matter of urgency.
President Mnangagwa assured doctors in public hospitals that Government will ensure they are fully stocked with drugs and medical equipment while looking at their welfare.
The assurance, coming from the highest office in the land, should boost the morale of the health workers while restoring confidence in the health sector, which had become a pale shadow of itself following years of malaise and lack of adequate funding.
Problems in the health sector resulted in a series of strikes mainly by junior doctors, with the latest one being in December 2018, where they were decrying lack of tools of the trade, drugs and low remuneration.
It is worth pointing out that some of the problems have since been addressed. We hope the availability of both equipment and drugs will give a clean bill of health to the sector to ensure that it gets back on its feet.
While the President’s assurance might not yield overnight results, since he has to engage at various levels for the procurement of the required essentials, we urge the medical fraternity to exercise patience, while utilising the resources they currently have.
We believe that by dialoguing, both the Government and the medical fraternity will achieve a lot as a team, rather than be confrontational as previously has been the case. Sadly, the militant stance that medical doctors have been adopting over the years have not been yielding much.
What we have been witnessing have been unending strikes and loss of human life. This is one narrative we do not envisage to share in the near future.
We do have a listening President, who is eager to engage at different platforms for the good of this country and the delegation of doctors who meet President Mnangagwa at the State House on Wednesday can attest to that.
It is within the same spirit that we implore the medical practitioners to engage on any issues affecting their operations before they rush to down tools. Currently, the Government is on an economic Transitional Stabilisation Programme to bring the economy back on the rails, following a long hiatus.
It is a difficult and challenging period that requires all stakeholders to engage and proffer solutions on how best the country can move forward without being confrontational. The period we are in requires a shared vision and resources from all angles.
Whilst heath provisions is the Government’s responsibility, we also urge the private sector to play a critical role in the resuscitation of the health sector in various ways.
We urge the private sector to partner with Government and build more hospitals, which boast modern equipment and well-trained medical staff.
We believe that the focus should not just be on hospitals, pharmacies and related infrastructure but also on accommodation for doctors and nurses in outlying areas to make them more habitable. We need collective dialogue to create meaningful and productive opportunities for the health sector.
Confrontation does not have a place in the new dispensation.