DISGRUNTLED members of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association have said they are waiting on the newly-appointed Minister of Health and Child Care, Obadiah Moyo, to offer them a better deal — which includes salary payment in United States dollars —failure of which they will go on strike.
BY SINDISO DUBE
Doctors spent the greater part of this year protesting over poor working conditions.
ZHDA vice-president and spokesperson Mxolisi Ngwenya told Southern Eye that members of his association were waiting for the new minister to take action in solving the problems bedevilling the health sector.
“Since we now have a new Minister of Health and Child Care, we will give him time to attend to our grievances. Now that he is aware of the challenges, our members expect swift action. We, as the executive of ZHDA, are waiting for positive results, not promises but action pronto,” he said.
“We are still on the negotiating table. We are always optimistic, although the ministry has failed us before. We can only hope for the sake of our patients, our livelihoods and our health sector.”
Ngwenya revealed that they were not planning to strike, but negotiate with their paymasters.
“We never plan to strike. We negotiate and negotiate to all ends possible. But when people cannot take it anymore, they are the ones who press the last resort button. We, as the executive, are just but a bridge between our members and the government,” he said.
The grievances that have been outlined by the doctors include unavailability of resources such as drugs and equipment, which the doctors say government should prioritise by allocating the health sector sufficient foreign currency.
On understaffing, the doctors have called on the government to unfreeze critical posts and increase the current establishment and staffing levels. Other grievances include low remuneration, proper allocation of working hours and health insurance.
Although efforts to get a comment from Moyo were unfruitful, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care, Gerald Gwinji, has since indicated that he had written to the Health Services Board requesting the unfreezing of the 957 vacant posts for environmental health technicians and laboratory scientists as part of efforts to revive the health sector.