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Zimbabwe: Doctors Strike Over Pay Review

Harare — DOCTORS at Government hospitals have gone on strike pressing for an urgent review of their salaries to US$1 000 and the reinstatement of the car loan scheme. The doctors are earning a salary of US$220 plus US$170 allowance from donors. In their petition to the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, the doctors contend that the salary and allowance they are getting were not enough for their monthly needs.

Investigations by the Herald revealed that provincial doctors had been on strike for the past two weeks while those at Harare Central and Parirenyatwa hospitals downed their tools last week. The doctors wrote to the ministry seeking an increase in the allowance, arguing that hospitals were beginning to generate income that should be used to improve their salaries.

In an interview, the president of the Hospital Doctors, Association, Dr Brighton Chizhande, yesterday said the US$220 salary they were receiving from Government and the US$170 allowance from donors were not enough to meet their monthly requirements. “The association wrote to Government with a proposal that Government review the salaries as our economy improves, but there was no response.

There has been a massive and overwhelming influx of patients at our central hospitals paying consultation fees, money for investigations, procedures and surgical operations,” said Dr Chizhande. “We also urged donors who have pledged to support health workers to do so in a predictable manner while the hospital provides on-call allowances, transport allowances, housing allowances and free medical attention to health workers.”

Dr Chizhande said the payment of the allowances would go a long way in retaining staff at the central hospitals and curb brain drain in the country. Doctors at Government hospitals have been getting retention allowances from Crown Agency but are complaining that the payments were not consistent.

Government last month started paying civil servants salaries after more than five months of giving them a $100 allowance. The salaries, which saw most civil servants getting between US$130 and US$200, have been widely condemned by workers’ representative groups as falling far below the poverty datum line. Efforts to get a comment from Health and Child Welfare Minister Henry Madzorera yesterday failed.

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