Cletus Mushanawani / Yeukai Karengezeka, Harare Bureau
AT least 10 percent of junior doctors have reported for duty countrywide with Government ready to consider extenuating circumstances for doctors reporting to work after the moratorium extended by President Mnangagwa expired.
At least 46 junior doctors out of the 448 on strike for the past three months returned to work under the 48-hour moratorium extended by President Mnangagwa after a meeting with Catholic bishops last week, allowing dismissed doctors to resume duty without reapplying for their posts.
Government sources last night said Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals had 17 junior doctors back at work, Chitungwiza Central Hospital 12, Sally Mugabe Hospital (formerly Harare Central Hospital) eight, United Bulawayo Hospitals four, Mpilo Central Hospital five, and Mutare General Hospital one.
This total of 47 shows that one extra doctor was accepted back at work after the figure showing 46 had returned to work was compiled.
Fielding questions from journalists during a Post-Cabinet briefing at Munhumutapa Building in Harare yesterday, the Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr Obadiah Moyo, said Government remained committed to dialogue with the doctors, as long as they showed commitment by reporting for duty.
“Forty-six doctors have since heeded the 48-hour moratorium issued by President Mnangagwa for them to report for duty,” he said. “They are no longer dismissed. They are now reinstated and should present themselves to their places of work where they will sign assumption of duty forms.
“The signing of assumption of duty forms will also help in having their salaries reinstated by the Salaries Services Bureau. So far, 402 doctors remain fired and there will not be an extension of the moratorium. Cabinet does not want to see patients suffering, and people continue dying. Negotiations for better working conditions will continue with those at work.
“Yes, they can be extenuating circumstances on why some failed to report for duty and those cases will be looked at separately.”
Dr Moyo hailed senior doctors and those working at mission hospitals across the country for their dedication to duty as they have been attending to patients for the past three months.
“We are grateful for the work being done by some senior doctors and those working at mission hospitals,” he said. “Their dedication to duty has seen some lives being saved.
“We have cases of senior doctors who were only invited for hearings by the Health Services Board. They were not fired and I want to reiterate that Government is committed to have the doctors back at work.
“We are continuously availing the basic medicine and other equipment they need for them to effectively discharge their duties. Tenders for surgical equipment and medicine were floated and we are in the process of acquiring the equipment.”
Dr Moyo said his Ministry was committed to ensuring that the doctors led cosy lifestyles that justified the long hours they spend at work.
“We are also working on the issue of their transport,” he said. “Fuel will also be availed to them as there are storage facilities at most central hospitals. A fuel budget is already being worked on.
“Government is in the process of rolling out accommodation facilities. There will be three and four storey blocks of flats constructed at all referral hospitals across the country. As a short term measure, we have identified flats that will be renovated and equipped with Wi-Fi and other social amenities like gyms.”
In further post Cabinet briefings on health issues, National Housing and Social Amenities Minister Daniel Garwe said Government had decided to prioritise the construction of social amenities facilities at all major hospitals across the country.
Work will start with the country’s referral hospitals before being decentralised to provincial and later district hospitals.
Information, Publicity and Broadcasting Services Minister Monica Mutsvangwa said Cabinet considered and approved the Medical Services Amendment Bill 2019.
The Bill was presented by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Ziyambi Ziyambi who chairs the Committee on Legislation.
“The Minister informed Cabinet that the Medical Services Amendment Bill 2019 is intended to align the Medical Services Act (Chapter 15:13) with the Constitution under the ongoing Legislative Reform Programme, which is being pursued by the Second Republic,” said Minister Mutsvangwa.
“The Amendment primarily seeks to safeguard and promote the right of every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe to access basic health care services, including reproductive health care; the right of every person to emergency medical treatment in any health institution; and the right of every child to health care services.
“In particular, the Amendment accords priority to the rights of persons over 70 years, persons living with disabilities and veterans of the liberation struggle to access medical attention.”