BY DESMOND CHINGARANDE
DOCTORS and nurses have welcomed the appointment of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga (pictured) as Health minister and Jasper Chimedza as the ministry’s permanent secretary, saying their hope was the two would work towards sanitising the health delivery system in the country.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently appointed Chiwenga to replace former Health minister Obadiah Moyo who was fired last month after he was embroiled in corruption charges. Chimedza replaced Agnes Mahomva, who was appointed head of the national taskforce on Covid-19 in May this year.
The Zimbabwe Senior Hospital Doctors Association said: “We welcome the appointment of substantive leadership in the recently vacant critical posts at the MOHCC [Ministry of Health and Child Care] and are hopeful that they will urgently look into matters bedevilling the sector to bring back healthcare to the people of Zimbabwe.”
They said they hoped Chiwenga would ramp up the Covid-19 fight by ensuring seamless availability of appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), improve testing and timely release of results in hospitals to restores systems as well as provide drugs, sundries and equipment for the hospitals to function again.
Further, the doctors said they hoped the new Health minister would push for healthcare workers to be paid a living wage in the United States dollar, and pay clinical allowances to all clinicians employed by the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) who offer services in hospitals as was done before.
The senior doctors also said Chiwenga should “stop the destructive alterations” being done to the UZ doctors training programme.
“As of now, our members remain on service withdrawal as the work environment remains unsafe, while members are incapacitated to report for work. PPE is non-negotiable in the face of such a deadly disease, and so is remuneration in US$,” they said.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association president Enock Dongo said nurses were happy that the ministry now had substantive heads.
“It’s a welcome development considering we had gone for a long time without a substantive minister and permanent secretary,” Dongo said.
“We are looking forward to also helping them understand our situations. Their coming-in must bring change to the structure of the ministry and we hope that they will also raise morale since we are incapacitated, which is a fact.”
He added: “We also expect them to improve our environment, Covid-19 is dangerous, they must make sure that frontline medical staff are provided with enough personal protective equipment, and provide new technological equipment among other issues and we hope they will look into those issues.”
Dongo said the appointment of Chiwenga would also close gaps since he is part of the presidium.
“If the appointment is not to raise the morale of the medical staff, then nothing will change because we do not work on intimidation. There is no way we can talk of calling off the strike without addressing the fundamental issues first, no US dollar salary, no work, and no PPEs, no work,” Dongo said.
l This article was first published in the NewsDay issue of August 6, 2020.