GOVT suspends striking doctors…. opposition MDC condemns decision as “misplaced and reckless”
By Staff Reporter
The Health Services Board in Zimbabwe (HSB) on Monday suspended 530 junior doctors without pay and benefits for embarking on strike action. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) immediately condemned the decision saying it was “misplaced and reckless”.
Junior doctors went on strike at the beginning of the month demanding a review of their salaries and general working conditions. Following Saturday’s ruling by a Labour Court declaring the strike illegal, the medical practitioners have escalated their case to the Supreme Court.
According to reports the suspension of the doctors is with immediate effect.
In a statement sent to Nehanda Radio, the MDC spokesman Jacob Mafume said “the MDC has learnt with shock that the government has suspended at least 500 medical practitioners.
“This in the face of an already depleted work force in respect of which thousands have flocked out in search of greener pastures. In the United Kingdom alone more than 3000 Zimbabwean doctors are employed there: way more than the total compliment in the motherland.
“The country has around 62 registered physicians with less than ten resident in Matabeleland and Midlands. Each of these has a share of at least 225 000 patients while most small towns have never had a resident physician.
“These are the issues requiring action as Zimbabwe needs to invest in training, retention and combating brain drain. Issues being raised by the medical practitioners are legitimate and reasonable.
Mafume said “doctors want the ratio between patients and clinical personnel reduced, drugs procured and health facilities improved.
“All these are selfless demands meant to save the lives of Zimbabweans yet the government is happy with a cosmetic appearance of Doctors at work while unable to save lives let alone serve the patients.”
“The scare tactics have angered the profession and every other practitioner initially not part of the industrial action has joined in placing the lives of Zimbabweans in even worse risk. The government must reverse these suspensions forthwith and negotiate in good faith,” Mafume added.