Zimbabwean doctors have demanded that government put in place contingency measures that ensure health workers are adequately paid in a stable currency, and also want the State to immediately address runaway price increases and shortages of basic medications to ensure the continued functioning of public health institutions.
Threatening to down tools, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) said they could not continue discharging their duties in the current situation where they are paid paltry wages while the cost of living is sharply escalating.
At the same time, Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) also called for adequate pay in a stable currency.
ZHDA said it will be petitioning Treasury and the Health and Child Care ministry as well as the Health Services Board seeking an urgent review of the payment mode for health workers.
"ZHDA wishes to convey that the current salaries for government doctors have been effectively reduced by 100 percent to around $350 monthly against an increase in prices of basic commodities.
"Through the consultative channels of the ZHDA, we have established that doctors who are on the government payroll will not be able to continue to discharge their duties on this paltry salary scale if the employer refuses to remunerate them in either US dollars or inflation-adjusted salaries currency with effect from the October 1, 2017," the ZHDA said in a statement.
"We urge the government to address this issue with the urgency it deserves so as to avert the possible nationwide strike whose consequences will be devastating."
Human rights doctors said they were deeply concerned by the worsening currency crisis and impending shortages of basic medications, health workers revolt and the general instability of the health sector.
"ZADHR will in the meantime deploy personnel in all major hospitals to evaluate, monitor and immediately raise the red flag should the currency stalemate result in violation of the right to health care.
"ZADHR advises the RBZ governor to own up to his self-inflicted currency crisis and also to give due consideration to the healthcare of all Zimbabweans by prioritising foreign currency allocation to the health sector as he normally does to the excess State travel of the bloated executive," the rights doctors said.
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Emmanuel Mujuru told the Daily News recently that they have been severely affected by the foreign currency situation in the country.
"We have not been able to access foreign currency on time despite the fact that we are on the priority list.
"That's why there has been an increase in prices and a shortage of some drugs," Mujuru said.
But the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor John Mangudya has said it has since allocated an unspecified amount of foreign currency to the pharmaceutical industry in a frantic move to avert a potentially devastating drug shortage in the country.
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