The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) has set up a crowdfunding initiative to appeal for donations from the public amid an ongoing industrial action which commenced six weeks ago. This is geared towards providing a way to help desperate medical personnel to ease the financial problems faced by its members.
According to Tawanda Zyakada, a representative of ZHDA, the most recent issue has been the withholding of October salaries for all doctors who haven’t been reporting to work due to the fact that they are financially liquidated.
Health Services Board chairperson, Paulinus Sikosana, has however denied reports that the government suspended salaries for the striking doctors, claiming that some doctors’ details were omitted by mistake.
HSB receives consolidated information from registers compiled by individual hospitals. For senior doctors, this is based on an on-call roster and as such if the doctor on-call was called to attend to patients and did not come, they were considered to be absent from work.
More so, there are claims made by doctors that they are receiving indirect threats to force them to abandon their nearly two months’ strike.
In their latest meeting with the HSB, the doctors association rejected a 60 percent increment offer on their on-call allowance which they described as an “insult”, declaring further incapacitation until their grievances are satisfactorily addressed.
However, last week, the government topped up the increment with another 40 percent to bring the total to a double salary.
Doctors are demanding remuneration at the current interbank rates arguing their current salaries are constantly being eroded by inflation. They are also demanding better working conditions as shortages of medicines persist.
The withdrawal of salaries has worsened the already dire financial situation among the health workers particularly the junior resident medical officers who rely solely on their monthly wages.
In a memo to its members, the ZHDA said it would not allow the government to force their hand into accepting ridiculous offers. Employer’s move of not paying ZHDA members their October salaries did not come as a surprise.
To help ease the financial burdens especially on the Junior Resident Medical Officers (JRMO), the crowdfunding initiative, in collaboration with affiliate associations, was put in place. Although it might not do much, it’s a temporary alternative to the government who has failed to meet their demands
The government has pleaded with doctors to return to work while their grievances are being looked into, but the health workers are insisting on a resolve.
By Faith Ikade.