Paidamoyo Chipunza, Harare Bureau
Treasury has given the Ministry of Health and Child Care the greenlight to employ over 2 200 doctors and nurses who are graduating this month, a move that is likely to avert a strike by the health professions that was scheduled to begin today.
Health and Child Care Minister Dr David Parirenyatwa, in an interview yesterday, assured all doctors set to graduate of absorption into the public health delivery system as Government medical officers.
“I am very excited about this development and I want to assure all doctors who will be graduating this February that we will be ready for them,” he said.
“We have been negotiating with the Ministry of Finance since November on review of staff establishments for both doctors and nurses and I am happy that we have been given the greeenlight to employ over 250 doctors and 2 000 nurses.”
Dr Parirenyatwa said his ministry was now looking at the provision of posts for other professionals such as pharmacists and laboratory scientists.
He said Government has since communicated the latest development to the doctors and appealed to them not to go on strike as they had scheduled for today, since some of their grievances have been solved.
Although our Harare Bureau did not see the letter, the doctors insisted that there was nothing concrete as yet from Government since they had not received the letter assuring them their grieviences had been addressed.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors’ Association (ZHDA) president Dr Farai Munatsi said last night that they were still consulting with their membership on the way forward regarding the latest promises.
Earlier in the day, the doctors had circulated a memo among themselves insisting that today’s strike would go ahead and they had not withdrawn it by last night.
“We have not received any concrete solution from the relevant authorities concerning our demands,” said Dr Munatsi. “Tomorrow (today) we stand united and firm. We have to save our health delivery system in Zimbabwe.
“The ZDHA urges all its members nationwide to withdraw their services from 15th of February till our demands are met.”
The doctors are demanding issuance of their practising certificates upon completion of their two-year internship and an upward revision of the on-call allowance to $720 for the lowest paid doctor.
After completion of their studies, doctors are required to undergo a two-year internship after which they are given a temporary certificate to practise in a Government institution for another year.
It is only after completion of the additional year as a Government medical officer (GMO), will they get their open practice certificate, enabling them to search for employment from elsewhere.
Government recently announced that it was no longer guaranteeing GMO posts because the current establishment was now full, prompting the junior doctors to demand their open practice certificates to enable them seek employment.
Health Services Board spokesperson Mr Nyasha Maravanyika said the board understood some of the doctor’s demands and was engaging with Treasury.
“The issue of on-call allowance revision is before Treasury and the HSB has always been having it on its agenda, including non monetary incentives such as the duty free framework,” he said.
“As far as we are concerned, these are issues that Treasury is seized with.”