By Costa Nkomo
Striking doctors have today called off their industrial action after 40 straight days of downing tools, amid calls for continuous engagement between doctors and the parent ministry health to avoid unnecessary interruption of service delivery.
Doctors embarked on an industrial action on the 1st of December last year pushing for among other things salaries in United States dollars and improved supply of drugs in public hospitals.
In a statement released today, Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors Association (ZHDA) expressed delight on the commitment shown by the Ministry of Health and Child Care to address the grievances that pushed them to down tools.
“It has been 40 straight days since doctors embarked on an industrial action citing various grievances that were and are crippling health service delivery in public institutions. The industrial action was meant to remind and send a clear message to the relevant authorities that the healthcare sector in the country was deteriorating and hence the need for urgent interventions.
“It is therefore important to appreciate that, the MOHCC has made commitments with its employees to address these crippling factors and we can only hope that these commitments would be implemented in all honesty at the correct time frame and as agreed, for the benefit of our patients and the country as a whole,” reads the statement.
The Ministry of Health has committed to supply medication in all public health institutions with the doctors hoping their employer will honor the promise.
“The MOHCC has committed in writing that it will consistently improve supply of medicines, medical and surgical sundries in public health facilities. It was further agreed that there is going to be unfreezing of critical posts for doctors across Central, Provincial and District Hospitals. We hope these promises will be fulfilled with urgency, as it has been the culture of the Health Service Board to go back on agreements before.
“We also continue to negotiate on outstanding issues like remuneration and working hours, and we hope we find common ground soon.”
However, doctors, like other civil servants maintain that they are incapacitated to report for duty on daily basis in the wake of fuel shortages and poor remuneration.
“Sadly, with no salary review, and frozen December salaries in this rough and ravaging economic environment, it remains a dilemma how our members will report to work daily. Indeed, poor remuneration and the current fuel shortage remain a threat that may spontaneously hinder our members from reporting to work daily and discharging quality health services to patients. That being said, our members have begrudgingly resumed work with effect from today, as dialogue continues.”