DOCTORS at public health institutions who are planning to go on strike will be sabotaging Government which is trying to rebuild the country, the Minister of Health and Child Care Dr David Parirenyatwa has said.
Speaking at Mpilo Central Hospital yesterday, Dr Parirenyatwa said Government was already doing its best to address doctors’ grievances and their threat to go on strike is unnecessary.
Doctors petitioned the Minister on February 5, giving Government 21 days to address a number of grievances that include the issue of allowances, vehicles and shortage of medicines and equipment in hospitals.
“I am aware that there is an ongoing discussion about conditions of service under our new dispensation especially with the 100 days plan. I think this is time when we should be together because anybody who contemplates a strike at this particular time when we are trying to invite investors will be sabotaging the system,” said Dr Parirenyatwa.
He said the issues should be resolved amicably without jeopardising the health care system.
“Let’s continue with the discussion and solve the issues quietly so that investors won’t say there is no health system in Zimbabwe due to the planned strike. I urge all health professionals to work tomorrow (today) not to stay away from work, they must work,” he said.
Dr Parirenyatwa said it was important for health workers to be at work given the outbreak bronchiolitis in Harare recently. “We have an outbreak of bronchiolitis and this is not the time to go on strike at all. We should all be on the alert because this outbreak is like flue and affects children below the age of two,” he said.
According to the Minister, those aged one are the most affected and the situation is worse for new born babies.
“The disease has a very low mortality but it is very uncomfortable as babies will be failing to breathe and it scares parents. They will need to access treatment which is mostly oxygen and Government has since agreed to lift the freeze on the recruitment of doctors and availed $10 million to buy vehicles for doctors. In their petition, doctors said they would be incapacitated at various institutions nationwide to discharge their normal duties if working conditions are not addressed to their satisfaction.
“We call for urgent procurement of standard hospital equipment and essential medicines to allow us to provide quality service to our patients. We also need clearly defined working hours as per regional and international standards to be set and observed. This means that doctors should work for eight hours of day duty and a maximum of eight hours on call, with a maximum of six calls per month for interns under supervision,” reads the notice.