The crisis in Zimbabwe’s health sector assumed a new twist on Thursday, 3 January 2019, after senior doctors joined a month-long strike by their junior colleagues who are demanding an improvement in working conditions and payment in US dollars.
The senior doctors, who had held fort at public hospitals while junior doctors embarked on a nationwide strike that started on 1 December 2018, have announced that they are being overwhelmed by the workload and have decided to join their colleagues on strike.
In a memorandum to hospital authorities, the senior doctors bemoaned the lack of progress in the negotiations between the government and striking junior doctors, saying they “are no longer confident we can discharge our duties properly without compromising both our and patients’ safety.”
“Our work involves working as a team and so if the other crucial part is missing, then we are all rendered useless,” the senior doctors said.
According to the memorandum, the senior doctors said they shared the same grievances as their juniors who are calling for a cost of living adjustment, the need for uninterrupted availability of essential drugs and sundries and the need to address the vehicle status of all doctors.
“We have resolved, therefore, as a group to protect our patients and ourselves to withdraw our services until an agreement is reached,” the senior doctors said.
The impasse between the doctors and the government has forced President Emmerson Mnangagwa to cut short his annual vacation.