Zimbabwean doctors have gone on strike demanding better pay and
working conditions. Dr Brighton Chizhanje, the president of the Hospital Doctors Association said although patients are now paying for all services at
the country’s public hospitals, this is not being reflected on what is
given to those who attend to the patients.
Chizhanje said: “Our strike action began at Mpilo and United Hospitals in Bulawayo. Doctors at Harare Central Hospital have also joined the strike action… We began by withdrawing on-call services because we are not getting on-call, transport and housing allowances yet patients are paying for drugs and drip; they are even paying for gloves used by hospital staff.”
Chizhanje said doctors recently had their pay increased to US$170 per month after receiving US$100 allowances for the last five months. “The government came up with this new pay structure without consulting us. It’s a flat figure, there are no allowances,” Dr Chizhanje said in an interview.
The union said a British organisation — Crown Agents — was paying doctors an additional US$220 per month, but the payments were not made
in some months and could not be relied on.
Chizhanje said doctors have found themselves overwhelmed in times of disasters or emergencies such as bus disasters and the recent cholera outbreak and yet they have to deal with “inadequate remuneration”.
He said doctors were setting up their own private initiative called the Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Project (DEPP) to alleviate some of the problems faced by health personnel while on duty.
Chizhanje said: “We welcome donations in cash and kind to make this project a success. The project will need resources, vehicles to ferry patients and health professionals to and from strategic places designated to curb these disasters. Funds will also be needed to provide medical kits and surgical equipment in order to control mortality from such occurrences.”
Zimbabwe’s unity government says it needs upwards of US$8 billion to fully restore social services after a decade-long economic and political crisis. The government has so far borrowed and appealed for donor support but is still a long way short of its target, ministers say.