By Paidamoyo Chipunza
Government has frozen medical doctors’ employment with effect from next month as the posts have been filled up, prompting the class completing its internship next month to demand their open practise certificates for them to search for employment elsewhere.
Although he could not immediately give more details on the issue, acting Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Child Care Dr Robert Mudyiradima confirmed the development and said Government was seized with the matter.
Our Harare Bureau has it on good authority that most Government posts are now filled and institutions can no longer employ the doctors unless there are promotions, resignations, retirement or deaths.
The newly-qualified doctors’ challenge is compounded by the fact that they cannot get their practising certificates before working for a Government institution for a year.
This effectively means they are unable to seek employment anywhere after completing their studies.
The doctors’ representatives have since petitioned all relevant Government health institutions, demanding that they be given their practising certificates soon after completing their internship to enable them to look for employment elsewhere.
Unconfirmed reports are that, of a possible 75 doctors expected to graduate from the medical school next month, about 50 are likely to be employed.
According to the current policy on medical students, after completing their studies, they are required to go for a mandatory two-year internship after which they are given a limited practising certificate valid for a year.
During the one year, the doctor must work at a Government hospital.
“In light of the failure by Government to provide vacancies for the doctors who would have completed their internship, we the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association on behalf of our membership, are petitioning Government and other relevant institutions as required by Section 44 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe to respect, protect, promote and fulfil our members’ right to practice the profession by completely removing the third year in which a doctor operates with a limited practising certificate and start issuing an open practising certificate upon completion of internship,” reads part of the petition.
The doctors said it was unlawful for Government to continually impose the third year of internship given the fact that it was unable to employ them.
They are threatening legal action should Government fail to address their grievances within 14 days.
“We reiterate our willingness to engage in a dialogue within the 14 working day period referred to above with the relevant Minister,” the doctors said in the petition.
While most Government health posts are now filled up, the burden of care remains high owing to the increased population.
Government is in the process of reviewing ideal numbers of health workers required per institution to match with the population. The Chronicle