Bulawayo – Members of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association have turned on the heat with their grievances on the newly appointed Minister of health and child Care Obadiah Moyo, barely a month after his appointment.
Members of the health fraternity spent the greater part of last year on industrial action against their pay masters over poor working conditions and low remuneration.
In a letter dated October 9, addressed to the Chairman of the Health Board and copied to the Minister of health and child care and the Minister of Finance and Economic Development, the Doctors association said the government should meet their demands in order to avoid disruption of service delivery and loss of lives.
“The ZHDA would like to bring to your attention a few issues affecting our members’ welfare and ultimately service delivery. Most are not new but have perhaps worsened despite promises to improve our welfare, and some have been compounded directly or indirectly by the recently announced monetary policy and economic meltdown.
“We understand that as the employer, some of these issues may not be your direct responsibility, and the responsible ministries and/or principals are; by copy of this minute, made aware of these issues,” read the letter.
Some of the grievances the health service members have include shortages of drugs and basic equipment. The country is currently experiencing massive drug shortages.
The doctors claim that the situation has worsened and shortages have gone from a government pharmacy level to a private pharmacy level. Patients with chronic illnesses like hypertension and HIV are failing to access basic drugs even at private pharmacies, leading to an increase in the number of medical emergencies and morbidity and mortality.
The doctors have cried foul over an adequate staff, making it difficult for them to render services.
On remuneration, the doctors said the recently announced monetary policy and taxation have also affected their earnings and spending.
“Following the recently announced monetary policy and taxation, our association is concerned about the survival of our members. We have received multiple complaints that basic commodities are now being sold in US dollars, and are generally unavailable in the market.
These are alarming complaints, and we fear as inflation continues to erode the little we earn, members and their families will starve, fail to travel to work, and fail to access their monies,” read the letter.
The ZDA Vice President and national spokesperson Mxolisi Ngwenya who is based at Mpilo Hospital in Bulawayo added that the government should honour their long standing promises and deal with the health sector crisis at once.
“The relevant principals should urgently put in place measures to enable a stable, constant supply of basic drugs and equipment in both government and private pharmacies. They should review the current establishment and unfreeze critical posts to beef up staffing levels at health institutions.
They should also review the monetary policy and taxation methods. In addition to this, government should remember that our contracts and CBAs state that we are paid in United States dollars. We expect therefore that our members and all members of the civil service will receive their salaries in US dollars and not RTGS currency,” he said.
Efforts to get a comment from the Minister of Health and child care were fruitless as his mobile phone was not reachable.