Zimbabwean doctors have ended a 40-day-old strike following talks with the health ministry. The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) in a statement on Thursday said the industrial action, which began on December 1, was meant to remind the relevant authorities that the healthcare sector was deteriorating and hence the need for urgent interventions.
It is, therefore, important to appreciate that, the MOHCC [ministry of health and child care] has made commitments with its employees to address these crippling factors and we can only hope that these commitments would be implemented in all honesty at the correct time frame and as agreed, for the benefit of our patients and the country as a whole,” the doctors said.
“We further state that it should not take 40 days with doctors on industrial action for the ministry of health and child care to act and restore normal service delivery in government health institutions.”
The medical practitioners said there was a need for “consistent and continuous engagements” between doctors and the health ministry to avoid unnecessary interruption of service delivery.
Despite their return to work, the doctors said their salaries had not been reviewed and their December ones were frozen “in this rough and ravaging economic environment”, adding that it created a problem for staff returning to work.
“Indeed, poor remuneration and the current fuel shortage remain a threat that may spontaneously hinder our members from reporting to work daily and discharging quality health services to patients,” ZHDA said.
“That being said, our members have begrudgingly resumed work with effect from today, as dialogue continues.”
The health ministry committed in writing that it would consistently improve supply of medicines, medical and surgical sundries in public health facilities, said the doctors, adding it was further agreed that critical posts for doctors across central, provincial and district hospitals would be unfrozen.
“We hope these promises will be fulfilled with urgency, as it has been the culture of the Health Service Board to go back on agreements before. We also continue to negotiate on outstanding issues like remuneration and working hours, and we hope we find common ground soon,” ZHDA said.
“Industrial action by doctors should not be the only language that brings about improvement in drug supply and conditions of service. Good dialogue, transparency, honesty and accountability should be incorporated to provide a platform that improves service delivery.