By Blessings Mashaya
Acting President Constantino Chiwenga yesterday warned that government will soon introduce a new law regulating the hiring of doctors after he came face-to-face with the dire situation at one of the hospitals affected by the on-going industrial action by disgruntled medical practitioners.
Chiwenga made the remarks after visiting the country’s biggest referral hospital – Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals – where essential services have been crippled by the doctors’ strike.
“We don’t stop people from asking when their conditions of service are not correct but it must be done within the confines of the law, people must negotiate in a good manner. In our Constitution there is right to life and there is no right to death.
“If someone dies you cannot bring him back to life. They (doctors) must have that sense of saving lives.
“We are going to look at the law. When somebody has not yet finished you can’t say he is a junior doctor… he is on internship.
“Those regulations are going to be made and will be put to Parliament until somebody is finished,” Chiwenga told journalists.
“The withdrawal of labour is illegal. The matter went to the court and they were told to go back to work within 12 hours (but) they have been defiant.
“We asked the minister of Higher Education to make sure all students who are ready for internship to be registered, by the weekend we must see a complete change in our hospitals,” Chiwenga added.
Chiwenga had earlier visited the National Pharmaceutical Company (NatPharm) in Southerton to assess how well it was stocked.
Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo said NatPharm had stocked most of the drugs that had been in short supply.
Striking junior doctors were this week joined in their industrial action by senior medical personnel — leading to the suspension of major procedures at public health institutions across the country.
This follows the government’s ill-advised recent decision to suspend 530 junior doctors, over their industrial action which was declared illegal by the Labour Court.
In a statement over the Christmas holiday, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said middle level and senior doctors had now also embarked on an industrial action with immediate effect.
“Negotiations for doctors and other health workers’ welfare take place in the Health Service Bipartite Negotiating Panel (HSBNP), guided by Statutory Instrument III of 2006.
“The employer has not taken this forum seriously and since 1 December, only three fruitless meetings have been held.
“To further show their lack of seriousness, the employer has failed to address issues, but instead taken the association to court and ordered members to resume work disgruntled,” ZHDA said.
“Our membership has stated firmly that they will not risk the lives of patients by working under duress … and will not return to work in potentially hazardous spaces.
“More so, the doctors did not receive their December salaries and are incapacitated to go to work.
“The response by the employer has been to suspend most of our members, pending hearings.
“This brutal, hard stance will not bring any thing towards resolving the impasse, but instead is regressive,” ZHDA secretary-general Mthabisi Bhebhe said. Daily News