By Melody Mashaire
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors have vowed to continue with industrial action as the health sector slowly plunges into a national health disaster.
Doctors have continued with the strike despite calls by government for them to return to work while their grievances are being addressed.
Contrary to some media reports yesterday which said doctors had decided to go back to work, Junior doctors have instead hit back on the Minister of Health Dr Obediah Moyo accusing him of lying to the nation.
In a press statement, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association said the situation was now a national health crisis.
“We wish to set the record straight that the industrial action that started on the 1st of December 2018 is still ongoing and the healthcare crisis in the country has reached an unprecedented critical level.
“ Instead of addressing what is now perceived as a serious national health crisis, the Minister of health seems to display an ‘I do not care’ and it is business as usual approach.
“We are even greatly disturbed to learn that the Minister of Health went on national television in the evening of yesterday to misinform the whole nation that the ongoing industrial action has been called off. He went on to acknowledge; there is a serious shortage of vital medicines in public hospitals but nothing was being done,” ZHDA said.
The association said the strike had taken its toll on the hospitals as the hospitals are now at the brink of collapsing.
“Today marks the 4th day since the industrial action was declared. All central hospitals in the country are now operating at very low capacity. There is fear that if immediate and robust interventions are not done to address the crisis, all public health institutions might collapse. Out of deep concern, we call upon the Minister of Health to stop engaging in activities that are purely in contradiction to a man of his statue,” ZHDA said.
ZHDA dismissed the members who were said to be representing the association saying they were no longer part of them and Minister Moyo was aware of it.
“We wish to also inform relevant authorities, key stakeholders, members of the press and public that the individuals by the name Dr Tsopo A and Dr Mugoni P are no longer standing as ZHDA National Executive Committee; neither do they represent doctors on any business.
“The Minister is fully aware of these developments. Whatever the aforementioned individuals pronounce and execute is now entirely out of their own interests, ambitions and personal business. We doubt their motives, opinions and interests have anything constructive to do with patients’ healthcare or doctors’ welfare.
“We further reiterate that, Dr Mugoni Patrick was suspended and dismissed way-before the expiry of his term in office after he was accused of gross misconduct and violation of ZHDA constitution.
“That he chooses to continue using ZHDA property and name for his own interests and motives, is a serious criminal offense that the current ZHDA national executive members must have to pursue,” ZHDA said.
United Bulawayo Hospitals and Mpilo closed their outpatients departments and were now dealing with patients who needed emergency attention only.
Junior doctors downed tools on Saturday citing numerous challenges, which include deteriorating working conditions, low salaries and lack of basic medicines and equipment.
The doctors are currently not showing up for work at all major referral hospitals including Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Harare and Chitungwiza Central hospitals
Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights acting spokesperson Norman Matara yesterday said they were rallying behind the striking doctors.