Zim doctors, nurses go on strike over health concerns - as donations arrive

A health worker washes her hands during a demonstration of preparations for coronavirus cases at a hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 11 2020.
A health worker washes her hands during a demonstration of preparations for coronavirus cases at a hospital in Harare, Zimbabwe, on March 11 2020.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Health professionals in Zimbabwe’s public hospitals have announced the withdrawal of their services in the fight against Covid-19 because their concerns have not received the “urgency they deserve”.

In a letter addressed to the Health Services Board (HSB), the Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) on Monday demanded that they should be given a “coronavirus risk allowance” and protective clothing, and that water should be made available at all health institutions.

But by the end of day of Wednesday, Zina said none of their demands had been met.

“So, in that regard, all nurses are withdrawing their services with immediate effect until there is genuine action taken by the employer [government]. We will only get back to work once our concerns have been swiftly acted upon,” said Zina in a statement.

Zimbabwe Hospitals Doctors Association (ZHDA) also distanced themselves from the fight against Covid-19 because of the same grievances.

“We would like to make it clear in no uncertain terms that our members will not be able to continue carrying out their duties, with immediate effect,” said ZHDA president Dr Tawanda Zvakada.

The strike comes at a time when Zimbabwe has officially confirmed three cases of Covid-19. The third is a person who had contact with the deceased broadcast journalist Zororo Makamba.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday a consignment of 1,000 protective suits and face shields, 20,000 laboratory diagnostic test kits and 100,000 medical face masks were received in Harare. They are part of Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s contribution to Africa’s fight against Covid-19.

"The ministry of health is very grateful to the Jack Ma and Alibaba Foundation for their generosity and contribution to the national Covid-19 response and will ensure equitable distribution of this consignment so that they get to where there is the greatest need," said the ministry of health and child care in a statement.


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