GOVERNMENT met striking doctors yesterday and urged them to resume work as some of their grievances had been addressed. Health and Child Care Minister Dr Obadiah Moyo met the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, the Health Service Board (HSB), the Zimbabwe Medical Association (ZIMA) and the Apex Council.
Speaking to journalists after the meeting in Harare, Dr Moyo said grievances that had been addressed by Government included the issue of car loans and availability of medicines.
"Medicines have been received and they are at NatPharm ready for distribution to all health centres around the country. We have given an instruction that NatPharm should distribute medicines to all health institutions," Dr Moyo said.
"Transportation of our workers has been looked into, starting with fuel. We have put fuel arrangements in place at all health institutions that have fuel tanks, for example at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, Harare Central Hospital and Mpilo Central Hospital," he said.
"We even went to the extent of asking for our doctors and critical healthcare workers to be exempted from queues so that they can go and provide essential services and look after the patients. Car loans have also been looked into. Out of $10 million, we received $4 million and we are looking at the balance. Cars will be given to our health workers soon," he said.
Dr Moyo said some issues were impossible to finalise at ministry level, like cost of living adjustments. These would be handled at a meeting covering all civil servants. Dr Moyo said ZIMA had also urged junior doctors to go back to work.
"We are one team being led by the Minister of Health, who is myself. We all have to push for the same agenda. We all have to make sure that whatever we do, we are a team. We are all fighting so that the department gets everything that is relevant. We all want to make sure that our healthcare workers benefit. We all want the patients to be looked after. The most important thing is that we must not lose any more lives," he said.
ZIMA secretary-general Dr Sacrifice Chirisa said the demand for payment in American dollars by the doctors had been scrapped off after they considered the economic situation in the country.
"We have negotiated starting with the US dollars request and those have been removed. We are happy with the negotiations that have taken place so far. I think we are in a positive direction and we are expecting a positive response from our counterparts. Negotiations have been fruitful and tough and we are making sure that by Christmas we would have full services without any disturbances. Some of the issues will be discussed in due course," he said.
The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association promised to make a statement today.