Zimbabwean doctors on Wednesday commenced a nationwide strike protesting low salaries and poor conditions of service.
The main demand of the doctors is for an increase in their on-call allowance which has remained unchanged since 2014 – they want the government to honor a pledge to peg it at a minimum of $720 per month.
They are asking for subventions to allow doctors to purchase their own vehicles and also insisting that the government employs a 120 trained doctors who will be out of work in the next two weeks.
As doctors, we'll continue to work and have our patients at heart. But if we do not get posts for these doctors it means the patients will continue to suffer. The hospitals will be understaffed, people will continue to die.
The Health Ministry in a press statement urged the doctors to report to duty for the sake of their patients adding that the treasury has granted concurrence to 250 posts for doctors. A sign that processes were underway for the hiring of the 120 doctors.
‘‘As doctors, we’ll continue to work and have our patients at heart. But if we do not get posts for these doctors it means the patients will continue to suffer. The hospitals will be understaffed, people will continue to die,’‘ Dr Aloais Muzvava told an Al Jazeera journalist.
Union leaders on Wednesday reported a deadlock in negotiations with the Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa. The Minister was however quoted in the media saying cabinet on Tuesday had agreed to address some of their concerns, top among them the recruitment of junior doctors due to complete internship in two weeks’ time.
The country has been hit by an acute drought worsened by an economic crisis that has led to currency shortage. The government has introduced local bond notes equivalent to the US dollars to solve the currency situation.
The country also suffered from a series of protests. Some demanding electoral reforms ahead of the next elections. Others against the introduction of the bond notes with others targeted at the high unemployment and worsening economic situation in the country.