The health sector in Zimbabwe is in serious crisis as doctors continue to remain on strike, an action that has lasted for over a month now.
The strike which is nationwide has further crippled the health sector in a country struggling to revive it’s weak economy.
Thousands of patients are still without health care and drugs, putting many of them with life threatening illnesses in danger.
What the doctors want
The agitating doctors are demanding an increase in salaries and improved working conditions.
The Herald reports that “Government has met eight out of 10 initial demands made by the junior doctors, including a car import facility, but the latter remain adamant, demanding to be paid in United States dollars.”
On Wednesday the government said it was surprised that the doctors are still on strike. The government said it has already meet most of their demands.
In a statement the deputy President Constantino Chiwenga said “Following a series of meetings involving striking Health Workers and their employer, the Health Services Board, Government is gravely concerned that the situation in our country continues to deteriorate to the detriment of patients who need and deserve medical attention as a human right in line with our constitution.”
“In particular, Government is disturbed by the fact that in spite of many concessions it made to the striking doctors, and the broad agreement reached on all but two issues, the striking Health Personnel continue to withhold their labour and negotiate in bad faith even though they are designated as an essential service under the Labour Act, and even though Government has bent over backwards to accommodate them,” the statement added.
Health care becoming expensive
DW reports that “Private health facilities are demanding payments in foreign currency, especially US dollars, which is hard to access for ordinary people. Pharmacists are refusing to accept the local bond notes which in the last three months have lost value.”
A patient told DW that “I have been given a prescription to go and buy drugs. But chemists want payment in US dollars which I don’t have. My children can’t help me because they don’t earn US dollars. The prescriptions are just piling up. I just keep them as I do not have the money.”
The Zimbabwe government insists on sanctioning the striking doctors after they refused to return to work. It follows a court ruling describing the strike illegal.
Deputy president, Chiwenga the government is taking key steps to ensure that essential health service is stabilized in the interim while more lasting measures are put in place to normalise the situation.
“Government will be making further announcements in the coming days,” he added.
Zimbabwe is currently facing economic challenges with the current government hoping to fix those issues. The current health crisis could compound the situation further.