Sunday, 26 July 2020

WE ARE GOING ON STRIKE : JUNIOR DOCS


JUNIOR doctors in public hospitals have issued a two-week strike notice demanding a review of their salaries and for the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) against the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

This comes at a time when salary negotiations between senior doctors, who also issued a two-week strike notice a week ago, and the government were deadlocked after the latter insisted on paying them in local currency instead of the United States dollars they were demanding.

In a letter to the Health Services Board (HSB), the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said junior doctors had for the past month been working with the hope that the government would address their plight of lack of adequate PPE and poor remuneration.

“As the ZHDA, we feel that it is now time that the employer takes these life-threatening concerns seriously. We hereby engage the employer to address these chronic issues, including that the remuneration of health workers should be urgently looked into and the Covid-19 allowances reviewed to meaningful figures in a stable currency.

“Personal protective equipment must be readily available upon request and a framework to support infected health workers, including a self-isolation allowance, medicines and food must be put in place with immediate effect.

“Should the employer fail to address these issues within 14 days of receipt of this letter, the ZHDA and its members will be forced to suspend operations at public health institutions,” wrote the ZHDA.

“According to the Health ministry updates, about 200 health workers have tested positive to Covid-19, forcing some hospital departments to shut down as the government continued to dither on its promise to avail adequate PPE.

“Doctors who were trying to hold the fort in hospitals continue being caught between a rock and a hard surface. Furthermore, the employer continues to peddle lies to members of the public that there are adequate health workers in the hospitals yet the hospitals are barely functioning. The health system in Zimbabwe is on its knees. 

 “The Covid-19 cases are on the rise amongst health workers and very little is being done to address the situation. Personal protective equipment in public hospitals is scarce, and some doctors were attending to patients without protection in efforts to save lives,” the doctors said.

The ZHDA added that the US$75 monthly Covid-19 allowance was more than a mockery to their suffering members as they were being daily exposed to the virus.

 “Our infected colleagues are not being taken care of despite being isolated in their homes without any form of support or concern from the employer. 

 “Our salaries are not enough to have savings and cater for our own well-being should we contract Covid-19, and fellow health workers with Covid-19 are being restricted to their own houses, footing their own health bills. Their bravery and commitment is going unnoticed,” the ZHDA said. 

 Last year, the junior doctors embarked on a crippling strike which lasted for more than three months over poor remuneration and working conditions. Daily News

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