3 January 2016

Zimbabwe: Doctors, Nurses Press On With Job Action, Claim Maternal Deaths

Unpaid doctors and nurses have reported an increase in maternal mortalities since they resolved to keep away from their work places starting three days ago claiming they could no longer afford bus fares.

In a joint statement Sunday, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) and Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) urged members not to return to work until government paid their December salaries and bonuses.

"As the nationwide campaign for bus fare and basic allowances intensifies, the ZHDA and ZINA leaderships has called for the government to act to avoid the continued loss of life and suffering by ordinary patients," said the health workers.

"It has been noted that by end of day yesterday (Saturday) more than 90 percent of nurses and 80 percent of doctors have heed the call by ZHDA and ZINA.

"It has also been noted that the cases of maternal and neo-natal mortality have also been on the increase since the first of January."

The call to keep away from work was issued by the unions last week.

Following the threats, health minister David Parirenyatwa pleaded with the workers to consider the plight of their vulnerable patients by going to work.

His permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji added salt to injury by offering doctors and nurses a daily transport allowance of $1 while they waited for their December salaries to be paid January 5.

But the move was still not enough to calm angry employees who claimed Sunday some of their members have been dislodged from rented accommodation while a doctor was also said to have attempted suicide due to financial problems.

"The ZHDA and ZINA executive committees continue to call their members not to report for duty until they receive their salaries," said the health workers.

Doctors and nurses were adamant they will not give their services for free and further rubbished state media reports on Sunday their call for a stay away has been ignored by members.

"We maintain that doctors and nurses deserve to live in dignity and will not be swayed by the shameless propaganda being distributed by the Sunday Mail," the unions said.

"Should there be no action by the government, the ZHDA and ZINA leaderships call upon the few remaining health workers who had remained in the hospital to down tools from Monday 4 January 2016.

"We maintain that there is nowhere in the world where health workers work for free.

"Every Zimbabwe has the right to be paid for the services they will have rendered and any attempts to coerce health workers to work for free is tantamount to reintroducing slavery and this shall be ostensibly rejected."

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