First Lady brokers end to doctors’ strike

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Doctors and medical personnel who have been on a 35-day long  industrial action have agreed to go back to work after meeting First Lady Auxilia Mnangagwa who promised to expedite, intermediate and end the month-long impasse.

In a closed-door meeting at State House, the doctors said had the First lady intervened on the first day of the industrial action, the impasse would have been resolved.

Among issues that doctors want resolved include salary adjustment, withdrawal of court cases against them and an end to disciplinary action of those who were protesting.

The doctors also requested that they be given duty exemption facility if they purchase vehicles.

Sources said the doctors also raised concerns over how the industrial action was handled by the Health Service Board which sided with government and issued threats instead of negotiating with the striking medical practitioners.

The First Lady assured the doctors that while some of their demands would be resolved early other issues would require time given the country’s economic situtation.

In an interview after the meeting one of the doctors said “We have agreed in principle to go back to work to give room for negotiations since the first lady will take the issues up to the presidium.”

This brings to an end the month-long industrial action that has crippled the health sector.

Junior doctors embarked on a strike on December 1 before being joined by radiographers and senior doctors.

Senior doctors yesterday wrote to clinical directors in public hospitals informing them of their intent to stop attending to emergencies.

The health practitioners were protesting over worsening working conditions and remuneration as well as the shortage of drugs and working material.

They were also against the sale of available drugs in foreign currency and also the dilapidated hospital infrastructure.

So critical was the crisis in the healthcare sector that President Mnangagwa had to cut short his annual leave to dash back home and consult with Acting President Chiwenga to solve the crisis.