20 March 2018

Zimbabwe: Nonsense, Say Doctors As Govt Announces 50 Percent Allowance Review

Photo: Daily Trust
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The government has announced a 50 percent upward review of allowances for junior doctors and other public health staff who have downed tools beginning of the month citing low wages and poor working conditions.

Health and Child Care Minister, David Parirenyatwa announced government had granted a 50 percent review of on-call and night duty allowances for doctors and nurses.

But doctors, through their representative group, the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) vowed they will not report for duty any soon citing alleged insincerity by their employer.

"On call allowances have been reviewed upwards by 50 percent," Minister Parirenyatwa said at a media briefing in Harare.

"The government has reintroduced a post basic allowance for nursing staff who acquire approved additional qualifications up to a maximum of two qualifications."

Nurse manager's allowances were also introduced to "recognise their additional clinical responsibilities".

"The vehicle loan scheme; this is now available for all health workers and it was established as a revolving fund of $10 million and it is immediately available," said the Minister.

"Furthermore, government in December 2017 disbursed $22 million from the health levy fund.

"This has been used primarily to support the procurement of medicines and medical sundries, hospital equipment and the reduction of the cost of blood from an average of $120 to $50 per unit at public health institutions."

The new allowances structure take effect from 1 April.

ZHDA spokesperson Mxolisi Ngwenya was quick to dismiss the said increments insisting this was a pittance compared to the $10 per hour that they had been promised, up from the current $1, 50.

Doctors also accused government of acting unilaterally without seeking any input from them.

"The ZHDA did not sign up for any such agreement. Minister should stop misrepresenting facts forthwith. 50% of a dollar fifty is $0.75 transfer," Ngwenya said.

"Why is he ignoring working hours? And what of risk allowance, housing allowance and rural allowance? What of drugs and equipment in hospitals? What do we use?

"He should sit down and respect people's right to health.

"ZHDA will not subscribe to nonsense. These are real issues, people are dying."

Vice President Kembo Mohadi, who also addressed the press briefing, urged the medical staff to resume their duties adding that the favours were only extended to the health sector and not the rest of the civil service.

"This is actually health specific. It does not go down to other ministries," Mohadi said.

Ngwenya vowed doctors will not resume their duties without insisting government should stop taking them for granted.

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