HomeAnalysisCandid Comment: Resolve health workers strike to save lives

Candid Comment: Resolve health workers strike to save lives

Brian Chitemba
THE cost of living in Zimbabwe is skyrocketing. It brings back memories of the hyperinflation era of 2008 when inflation was at an all-time high.

Workers’ buying power has been reduced drastically, especially those earning the Zimdollar.

Most workers live far below the poverty datum line. It’s a painful situation.

Worst affected are civil servants including health workers who earn an average of ZW$30 000 (US$40) per month.

The elevated levels of poverty saw nurses and other health professionals downing tools this week.

Major referral hospitals are in a crisis as doctors and nurses are on a job action.

They are demanding a decent salary of about US$800 a month.

Health workers say the current salaries and the additional US$175 Covid-19 allowances are an insult to them.

This is why thousands of health professionals have been forced to migrate to other countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and the United States, making Zimbabwe a good case study for brain drain in the past two decades.

Comparing what health workers are earning in the region, it explains why local doctors and nurses are on strike. In Namibia, nurses earn about NAD22 000 (US$1 477) while in South Africa, they get about R28 470 (US$1 783).

The brain drain and the ongoing strike have an undesirable effect on the health delivery system as patients are left stranded.

This week, at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals, scores of patients were left unattended.

It paints a grim picture of an escalating health crisis.

Zimbabwe’s health sector is already in the intensive care unit. There are no essential drugs and equipment which befit modern hospital standards

The problem is that the ruling elite seek medical attention from top facilities in South Africa and in Asian countries.

This may explain why it seems no one really cares about the situation in public hospitals.

The penchant for luxury by top government officials amidst a sea of poverty is astonishing.

One of the striking nurses carried a placard expressing disappointment over how government ministers and other top officials drive Range Rovers while civil servants are forced to ride commuter omnibuses.

For the sake of patients in public hospitals, the government should expeditiously resolve the crisis.

Poor people have no second option. They have no resources to fly to China or Singapore for medical attention. The available option has been grounded putting lives at risk.

Government leaders should spare a thought for the suffering patients. Spare a thought for the underpaid health workers and other civil servants.

Underpaid health workers and other civil servant

The amount of natural resources such as gold, platinum, diamond, lithium and chrome among others, makes it an contradiction for Zimbabwe to be stuck in unending economic problems.

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