Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Doctors blast ‘misled’ Chiwenga

By Pauline Hurungudo

Doctors yesterday came out guns blazing, telling Acting President Constantino Chiwenga that government did not spend a single cent in educating them.

Vice President Constantino Chiwenga
Vice President Constantino Chiwenga

They said their parents, guardians and family actually sent them to school adding they are qualified doctors who hold degrees from accredited institutions.

The doctors said those around Chiwenga fed him with wrong information.

This comes after Chiwenga, on Thursday, threatened the striking doctors whom he said were ‘unqualified’ and currently under internship.

He also said the doctors were under the Higher and Tertiary Education ministry waiting to clamp full qualifications.

In a press statement, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said the striking doctors are fully qualified doctors who hold two Bachelors Degrees of Medicine and Surgery (MB&ChB) and have graduated from university.

“They have undergone five-and-a-half years of intense training including clinical rotations and are not under the ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education as the ministry would like the Presidium and the public to believe.

“The government would not be stating that hospitals are at a standstill and chasing after them if these doctors were just students.

“Students do not treat patients and do not perform surgery on pregnant women, as this would be inhumane and illegal,” ZDHA said.

The industrial action has been ablaze for 29 days leading to a crisis at State hospitals.

Negotiations between government and the ZHDA have been fruitless as the disgruntled medical practitioners have not returned to work claiming government is not sincere.

The doctors defied a 12-hour ultimatum to return to work resulting in the disciplinary action to suspend 553 junior doctors and radiographers.

Chiwenga also blasted doctors saying they had been under government financing and were contravening their ethics to save lives.

“Health and Child Care minister Obadiah Moyo and his deputy John Mangwiro have misinformed Chiwenga on the reality of the prevailing situation in the health sector.

“The government ceased offering financial assistance to medical students years ago.

“They did not spend any money in sending our members to school and this was an effort of the parents, guardians and sponsors of our doctors.

“More so, these doctors earn a basic salary of $329 RTGS, and the bulk of their remuneration are extra hours done on call,” ZDHA added.

This also comes after government through the Information, Media & Broadcasting Services ministry had said the doctors are earning a whopping US$2 000.

Chiwenga warned doctors saying a new law regulating the hiring of doctors would be introduced after he came face-to-face with the dire situation at one of the State hospitals.

State hospitals such as Parirenyatwa and Harare hospital are now at breaking point as patients are failing to get proper medical attention.

Meanwhile, the mortuaries are over stretched as doctors are not available for post-mortems and other requirements for distraught relatives to take their deceased.

Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) said although it’s important to resolve the dire situation, insinuations to criminalise industrial actions by health workers will be a flagrant violation of workers’ rights if put into a law.

“ZADHR admits that health workers must act responsibly to avoid violations of the right to health but also does not agree with the heavy-handed approach in curtailing 
health workforce challenges.

“ZADHR urges the minister of Health to urgently reconstitute the Health Services Board.

“Their failure to urgently and effectively deal with the perennial doctors’ strikes is proof enough of their incompetence.

“Doctors cease to be medical students the day they pass their fifth year examinations.

“The conduction of honest dialogue between the government and the doctors should be a practical solution to resolving the current dispute.”

Meanwhile, all doctors have reportedly joined the strike from junior level and middle level to senior doctors from central, provincial and district hospitals.

Government has resolved to speed up the registration of medical students who are ready for internship to cover the gap created by the firing of the striking doctors.

This also comes at a time when another industrial action by nurses is looming, after they resolved to work two days per week, citing economic constraints. Daily News