“Resign or we’ll shut down health services” – Zim Doctors challenge minister of health

Zimbabwe's Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr David Parirenyatwa.

By Khanyile Mlotshwa

DOCTORS in Zimbabwe have called on the minister of health, his deputy and the entire Health Services Board (HSB) to resign after failing to engage the medical practitioners to stem a nationwide strike that has shut down all central hospitals.

The doctors also threatened to escalate the strike taking it to all district hospitals as they intend to shut down the health services in the entire country.

In a statement, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said the HSB and the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr. David Parirenyatwa have not been forthcoming to resolve the issues raised by the doctors who have been on a nationwide strike for two weeks today.

“Instead they have engaged in deliberate misinformation of the public using state media and resorted to a failed strategy of issuing legally void threats to the striking doctors,” the doctors said.

“This in our view is a sign of failure and must be immediately followed by resignation of the entire HSB and the minister.

“We note with concern the closure of almost all central hospitals, children’s units, provincial hospitals and cessation of emergency life-saving procedures throughout the country.

“We place this failure directly on the heels of Dr Parirenyatwa and the Health Services Board who have shown disinterest and lack of urgency in resolving the demands of the striking doctors.”

The doctors said only their leadership in the ZHDA “is mandated to call off the doctor’s strike after consultation and agreement with its members.”

“Any pronunciations by the HSB, Minister of Health or other affiliate health associations are of no effect to the striking doctors,” the doctors said.

“Any other strikes by other associations such as nurses or paramedics are not in any way linked to the doctors demands and no blanket negotiations or conflation of the separate demands will be entertained. Any maneuvers to the contrary or insinuations by other health associations will not be tolerated.”

Doctors in Bulawayo, the country’s second largest city, were expected to demonstrate today morning to “show solidarity with our patients who continue to be deprived of health care by the doctor’s employer.”

“Members in and around Bulawayo, including Mpilo Hospital are urged to join,” the doctors said.

“Meetings with higher authorities are being sought and all members are encouraged to remain resolute and duty-bound to restore the dignity of the doctors’ profession.”

The doctors said they are escalating the strike recalling “all the doctors we had instructed to remain at their stations to cover for emergencies.”

“This in effect implies that from tomorrow (14 March 2018), day 14 of the strike all consultants, registrars, district medical officers and general medical officers are now formally joining the strike,” the doctors said.

“We will only return to work when all issues raised by the ZHDA have been fully resolved. We urge all Zimbabweans to pray for us as we try to restore sanity, dignity and nobility of the medical profession.”