HARARE, Zimbabwe: A billionaire has offered to pay striking doctors in Zimbabwe to help end a months-long protest over grave hospital conditions as the economy crumbles, and a doctors’ group on Thursday said it was encouraging members to embrace the money and return to work.
But Dr Masimba Ndoro, vice-president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, warned that “nothing much has changed” in the conditions at public hospitals that include the lack of basic items such as bandages and gloves.
Relatives of patients are still expected to buy such items and, in some instances, bring buckets of water as Zimbabwe’s once-envied health care system reflects the southern African nation’s general collapse.
“It breaks a doctor’s heart to ask a patient who clearly cannot afford bread to buy their own blades, bandages and even dressing solutions, painkillers and antibiotics,” Ndoro said.
Doctors abandoned work four months ago to press for better salaries and working conditions, saying their roughly $100 monthly pay is not enough to get by. The action became one of Zimbabwe’s longest doctors’ strikes in history.
The majority of people in Zimbabwe already are battling to put food on the table, let alone afford expensive private medical care or drugs.
“It is in the interests of both the patients and the doctors to go back to work,” Ndoro said.
He said his organisation, which represents about 1,600 junior doctors at public hospitals, is asking members to accept the offer by Zimbabwean telecoms billionaire Strive Masiyiwa.