- Doctors have joined nurses and other healthcare workers in Zimbabwe for Monday’s strike.
- Since coming into office in 2018, the health and childcare minister has never met with health workers.
- Zimbabwe Health Apex Council says 4 000 nurses have left government employment in the last three years.
Doctors, nurses and other health sector workers in Zimbabwe have put the government on notice that they’ll go on strike from Monday in protest against poor working conditions and remuneration.
Health workers union Zimbabwe Health Apex Council (ZHAC) said while it knows the strike could mean human cost, they cannot report for work because remuneration of healthcare workers is presently so poor that most health care workers can no longer afford the service they provide nor are they able to look after and fend for their families.
The economy has been in a tailspin for the past three months with the Zimbabwe dollar’s weakening resulting in 132% inflation.
On Friday, government offered its employees a 100% salary increment, which meant the lowest earning government worker would take home an equivalent of R1 600. They flatly rejected the offer.
In April 2018, Zimbabwe’s health and childcare minister, who is also the vice president, retired army general Constantino Chiwenga, fired 16 000 striking nurses.
A nurse serves a meal to a patient lying on a bed in a medical ward at a local hospital in Harare on 26 April 2022.
AFP Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP
His iron fist approach, according to ZHAC, was hostile to the point that there has never been a meeting between him and health sector representatives.
In the past three years, ZHAC said at least 4 000 government healthcare workers have resigned from work. The majority went to the United Kingdom.
“The poor conditions of service have caused significant brain drain within the health sector, with more than 4 000 resignations in the last three years,” it said.
According to figures from the Health Service Board, in 2018 about 756 health workers resigned. In 2019, 767 left, and in 2020 a reported 993 health workers quit government employment.
In 2021, while there was no industrial action from health workers, another 2 246 resigned.
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