Government and striking doctors must find each other and it is our fervent hope that representatives of doctors will attend today’s meeting. The doctors have been on strike for more than two months now and the situation is dire at most Government hospitals that are operating with skeleton staff. Government has said it is committed to dialogue hence today’s meeting.
The striking doctors have complained about incapacitation due to poor salaries, lack of medicines and other consumables at Government hospitals which they say is inhibiting service delivery. Government has said it has come up with a package of improved working conditions that includes accommodation, transport and food as it works on addressing the doctors’ concerns.
The Minister of Health and Child Care Dr Obadiah Moyo said Government was reviewing conditions of service with special focus on the provision of accommodation and transport for junior doctors. He said the provision of institutional accommodation was being pursued and the situation that Government envisages is accommodating doctors at their work stations to cut on transport costs.
Dr Moyo assured doctors that Government had ordered more medicines and had allocated money towards restocking of medicines. The issue of lack of medicines and other consumables that doctors have been raising are very genuine concerns and it is pleasing to note that Government is addressing these shortcomings which have been frustrating doctors.
Doctors obviously want the best for their patients and therefore get frustrated when patients cannot get the required medicines or consumables. We however do not believe downing tools is the way to go when faced with such challenges.
Doctors should instead engage Government which should promptly respond to such concerns as it is doing now. A total of 322 disciplinary cases have so far been heard and 286 doctors have been fired. This could have been avoided had the doctors and Government resorted to dialogue to address the challenges facing the health sector.
What should however be appreciated is that Government has many competing priorities but health remains a fundamental human right and therefore Government should strive to ensure citizens are not denied this right.
Now that doctors and Government seem to be converging on the issue of ensuring hospitals are able to deliver, today’s meeting should come up with improved channels of communication that will not only benefit doctors but their patients as well.