Zimbabwe’s doctors who have been on strike since 1 December today announced that they had officially ended their 40 day strike.
The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association which represents the striking doctors said: “As we return to work begrud(g)ingly, we will be working with whatever is available. We hope the promises are fulfilled.”
Doctors were demanding among other things adequate supply of drugs and equipment to hospitals and salaries in United States dollars.
The government said it could not pay civil servants in United States dollars because it did not have the money and had started supplying drugs to hospitals.
It is holding a crucial meeting with representatives of civil servants to also address their demands, but the announcement of the end of the doctors’ strike will put a damper on pending strikes as other government workers are not as critical as doctors.
“ZHDA is delighted to inform the membership, members of the press and public that the industrial action by doctors in Government hospitals have come to an end. It has been 40 straight days since doctors embarked on an industrial action citing various grievances that were and are crippling health service delivery in public institutions,” the doctors’ association said in a statement.
“The industrial action was meant to remind and send a clear message to the relevant authorities that the healthcare sector in the country was deteriorating and hence the need for urgent interventions.
“It is therefore important to appreciate that, the MOHCC has made commitments with its employees to address these crippling factors and we can only hope that these commitments would be implemented in all honesty at the correct time frame and as agreed, for the benefit of our patients and the country as a whole.
“We further state that it should not take 40 days with doctors on industrial action for the Ministry Of Health and Child Care (MOHCC) to act and restore normal service delivery in government health institutions. Therefore, there is a need for consistent and continuous engagements between doctors and the MOHCC to avoid unnecessary interruption of service delivery.
“The MOHCC has committed in writing that it will consistently improve the supply of medicines, medical and surgical sundries in public health facilities. It was further agreed that there is going to be unfreezing of critical posts for doctors across Central, Provincial and District Hospitals.
“We hope these promises will be fulfilled with urgency, as it has been the culture of the Health Service Board to go back on agreements before.
“We also continue to negotiate on outstanding issues like remuneration and working hours, and we hope we find common ground soon.
“We believe that, if these crucial commitments are implemented, it will go a long way in alleviating the challenges our members encounter when discharging lifesaving services in Govt hospitals.
“Industrial action by doctors should not be the only language that brings about improvement in drug supply and conditions of service.
“Good dialogue, transparency, honesty and accountability should be incorporated to provide a platform that improves service delivery.
“Sadly, with no salary review, and frozen December salaries in this rough and ravaging economic environment, it remains a dilemma how our members will report to work daily.
“Indeed, poor remuneration and the current fuel shortage remain a threat that may spontaneously hinder our members from reporting to work daily and discharging quality health services to patients.
“That being said, our members have begrudgingly resumed work with effect from today, as the dialogue continues.
“We, as ZHDA, reaffirm to the Government our determination and commitment to unite and work towards a healthy and prosperous Zimbabwe.
“We wish to do so, through advocating for efficient and effective health delivery system and improvement in conditions of service for doctors.”