Doctors at Zimbabwe’s impoverished government hospitals are on strike over pay and teachers have threatened to also begin a work stoppage.
“We are demanding viable salaries,” said Amon Siveregi, president of the Zimbabwe Medical Doctors Association […] What we are getting right now is not enough. I can’t go into details because I sit on a board that bars me from revealing doctors’ salaries.
“We have informed the government about the strike and they are aware of our demands, which are not unreasonable”.
Crisis in Zimbabwe, a coalition of Harare-based humanitarian organizations, described Zimbabwe’s hospitals as “death halls” in a report earlier this month.
It blamed poor salaries for health professionals and “acute shortages” of drugs and equipment for the problem.
This is a testimony of things to come if ZANU-PF refuses to share power with the MDC, observers say.
The strike by doctors may be followed by another by teachers, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe said today.
“The 448 percent increase on basic salary and the 900 percent transport-allowance increase are basically a high sounding nothing,” the union’s spokesman Takavafira Zhou said “It falls far short of our demands for the equivalent of $800 U.S.”
“Sad faces were the order of the day today as teachers learnt that the goverment is continuing to pretend to pay teachers when in reality they are starving them.”
Zhou said teachers have resolved to demonstrate their anger and poverty when schools open on Tuesday.
This morning doctors in Harare said the government should act urgently to improve their salaries and allowances, citing galloping inflation, which on Tuesday was officially estimated at 11,27 million percent.
Doctors say it is difficult for them to practice proper medicine as even basic drugs are not available.
“There is nothing, not even painkillers. Not one doctor has been going to work since Tuesday and the situation will remain so until our grievances are addressed.”
In February this year the health ministry teamed up with the Global Fund to pay the salaries of 132 doctors, pharmacists and laboratory scientists in foreign currency.
In the run-up to the March elections, the government acquired 200 vehicles valued at US$4 million for senior health workers and doctors in a bid to improve working conditions and boost morale.
The health sector is among those hardest hit by the skills flight and the government has resorted to bonding newly qualified professionals to stem the exodus.
Zimbabwe trains an estimated 4 500 nurses and 149 doctors every year but three quarters of these find their way into the private sector or leave the country immediately upon the expiry of the mandatory bonding period.