New perks on the table for doctors
Joseph Madzimure Senior Reporter
Government and striking doctors will meet tomorrow to discuss a proposed package of improved working conditions that includes accommodation, transport and food, as authorities seek to bring normalcy to public hospitals where patients have endured poor service delivery for over 70 days.
Speaking at a post-Cabinet briefing in Harare yesterday, Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo said the Government was working tirelessly to address the doctors’ concerns and had allocated money for the procurement of medicines to restock hospitals.
Dr Moyo said they were reviewing conditions of service with special focus on the provision of accommodation and transport for junior doctors.
“Government is still committed to dialogue with the striking doctors and a meeting has been scheduled for Thursday, 14th November, 2019,” he said.
“Government is working flat out to ensure availability of resources in health institutions and to improve the conditions of service for all health personnel.
“I want to assure them that we have ordered more medicines and Government has allocated money towards restocking of medicines at public hospitals to ensure proper health care service is provided to the people.”
Dr Moyo said the provision of institutional accommodation was being pursued to alleviate service delivery challenges in the short and long-term.
It was important for doctors to be accommodated at their work stations to cut transport costs.
“Government is in the process of identifying flats to ease accommodation challenges facing junior doctors and Zupco buses will be availed to ferry them to and from their work stations,” said Minister Moyo.
“Food will also be provided at their work stations while all the surgical materials will be availed in all the health institutions as required.
“We shall continue dialoguing and make sure we talk from the same direction. We have to talk to find solution.”
The strike by doctors over conditions of service has gone on for more than two months and a total of 322 disciplinary cases have so far been heard, with 286 doctors being fired for absenteeism.
The doctors insist that they are incapacitated to report for duty and are further demanding to have salaries set in US dollars with any payments in RTGS dollars to be done at the prevailing interbank rate.
Dr Moyo said the situation at Harare City Council clinics remained constrained after nurses went on strike citing “incapacitation”.
Only 35 out of the 104 nurses turned up for duty at the city’s five polyclinics.
“The nurses withdrew their labour over delayed salary payments and are refusing to resume duty even after receiving their salaries,” said Dr Moyo.
“The action by the nurses is illegal and the employer has been advised to commence disciplinary processes on the striking nurses in line with the country’s laws.
“Only those nurses reporting for duty will be paid while their conditions of service are being looked into.”
Council is offering limited services at polyclinics in Mabvuku, Tafara, Kuwadzana, Mufakose, Hatfield and Glen View.