New Doctors’ Body Pushes for Better Incentives

By Paidamoyo Chipunza Senior Health
The new Zimbabwe Progressive Doctors’ Association (PDAZ) yesterday said it wants serious discussions with the Health Services Board and has compiled its monetary and non-monetary expectations.

The list has already been sent to the board for its consideration.

The association believes junior doctors have legitimate grievances, the same that led to the job action, but that these must be addressed in meaningful negotiations while doctors are at work.

In an interview, PDAZ spokesperson Dr Anesu Rangwani said they were hopeful the employer would put a meaningful offer on the table.

“We want to be progressive, but we are not going to label anyone who has not been coming to work because doctors did not down tools for no reason,” he said.

“However, as PDAZ we are saying the past should stay in the past. Yes, incapacitation was there, our grievances still stand and they are still genuine, but what we need now is a solution. We need to forge a way forward.

“We have commenced the process (of negotiating with Government) and we have since submitted our proposals in terms of what we expect as salaries and non-salary benefits. There is nothing solid yet, but we are hopeful that an agreement is imminent.”

Although he could not provide the exact number of PDAZ membership so far, Dr Rangwani said the response from fellow junior doctors had been encouraging.

He said following their launch in Harare recently, a number of junior doctors had been signing resumption of duty forms from their respective health institutions, a sign that many were taking heed of their call to return to work and pursue negotiations while on duty.

“Initially, people were sceptical, but a week later following our launch in Harare a number of junior doctors returned to work and that has been our call for people to go back to work and give negotiations another chance,” said Dr Rangwani.

He said PDAZ’s vision was driven

by the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take, which places patients first before anything else.

“The idea of coming up with a different association from the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) came around day 81 when we realised that weeks had gone by with no solution in sight,” said Dr Rangwani..

“A group of doctors with like-minded thoughts then came together and formed PDAZ with the hope of breaking the longstanding labour dispute between Government and junior doctors. Our grievances remain the same with those presented by the ZHDA but we differ in approach,” said Dr Rangwani.

Since its formation, PDAZ has been calling on its members and fellow junior doctors to return to work.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Child Care show that all junior doctors at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Chitungwiza Central Hospital and most from Harare, Mpilo and United Bulawayo hospitals, had by Friday not only signed their resumption of duty forms, but actually availed themselves for work.

PDAZ’s call also followed a 48-hour moratorium provided by President Mnangagwa to the striking junior doctors to return to work despite earlier dismissal by the HSB.

Higher Life Foundation (HLF) also offered a $100 million education facility as scholarships for the doctors to complete their education.

The ZHDA had rejected both offers, arguing that it needed to solve its labour dispute with the employer first before any other interventions from well-wishers.

Most junior doctors went on to apply for the HLF incentive nicodemously and have since returned to work, leaving ZHDA out in the open.

Some senior consultant doctors have also started trickling back at work, joining several others who never downed tools since the beginning of the strike.

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