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Fire health minister: striking doctors

HORDES of Zimbabwe’s medical doctors yesterday petitioned Parliament to push for the sacking of Health minister Obadiah Moyo when they demonstrated in the capital against poor working conditions and remuneration.

The doctors, who marched from Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals to the Africa Unity Square in the city centre, also handed a petition to Parliament to have their grievances addressed.

Senior Hospital Doctors Association vice president, Raphael Makota, said doctors were incapacitated. They now want Parliament to intervene and probe Health and Childcare Minister Moyo, for failing to deal with critical issues in the health sector.

“Censure the Minister of Health and Child Care to stop his efforts that are destroying the sector. He should be relieved of his duties before he destroys the sector,” Makota said.

He added: “Senior doctors have been incapacitated by the serious erosion of their salaries which cannot sustain them to be able to work for a full month even after factoring in the proposed increments.

“Doctors work as a team. Senior doctors need junior and middle level doctors to be able to function well. They are also incapacitated. Their incapacitation needs to be resolved. Doctors want a liveable wage bench marked against inflation,” Makota said.

Makota said doctors were aware of the desire by the government to create fiscal space. But, they want their conditions to be improved. He bemoaned government’s decision to fire doctors for airing their grievances.

Government has so far fired 448 doctors following disciplinary action. “The unfortunate thing is that the Ministry of Health and Child Care, through Health Service Board (HSB) and hospital administrators, fired doctors for airing out their grievances,” Makota said.

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The situation in most of Zimbabwe’s hospitals is dire. “Hospitals have run out of essential drugs and sundries and a lot of essential hospital equipment has either broken down either needing urgent repair or complete replacement. Even the most basic things like syringes are hard to come by in hospitals. The hospitals have now turned into a dangerous place for patients,” Makota said.

He added that doctors have met hospital administrators of different institutions with the view to resolve these challenges. For the past three months doctors have been demanding salaries and allowances pegged to the inter-bank rate or forex payment.

Last week President Emmerson Mnangagwa offered a moratorium to doctors to return to work without being disciplined. The moratorium has since expired. Now, doctors want an extension of the deal.

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