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Self service and saving lives

23 Jun 2020 at 08:34hrs | Views
On the 17th of June health workers woke up to realise that their already compromised salaries had been further cut spurring them into an immediate industrial action that started at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals in Harare, Zimbabwe. An unintelligible excuse was given by the Health Services Board, but it is the corruption within the health system and government at large that aggravated matters.

"It's tiring that I earn 2.200 Zimbabwean Dollars (USD 35) and on top of that they cut it without giving a decent explanation." A protesting nurse who spoke on condition of anonymity fumed.

The industrial action started at Parirenyatwa Hospital which is the country's biggest referral health facility and swiftly cascaded to other major public hospitals across the country.

Efforts to get comments from the National Health Board were unfruitful as their phones were either not answered or the voice at the other side of the line claimed to have no authority to comment on the matter.

In a society where morality precedes legality the irony was not lost on the Health Services Board chairman who went to address the protesters in a brand-new Range Rover bought as a service vehicle for Covid19 related duties.

In an effort to wade off the growing impatience from the health workers the government announced a USD 75 Covid 19 allowance which will only work as a shopping voucher since the banks are not allowed to cash it out.

The visibly frustrated nurse explained, "The government expects us to be able to open Foreign Currency Accounts (FCA) which require an initial USD 20 and with our current salaries we are not even able to do that.

This bedlam is happening at a time when the coronavirus positive cases have risen to 479, a number that looks modest compared to other countries but already spelling danger Zimbabwe's volatile healthcare system.

On June 19th, the minister of health Dr. Obadiah Moyo was arrested on allegations of corruption in a move that is largely seen as a smokescreen to mask the rot in the healthcare system and possibly pacify the health professionals and have them return to work. Predictably Minister Moyo was released the following morning on a bail and if the stories doing the rounds are anything to go by he did not even spend the night in the police holding cells at Rhodesville as reported in the state media.

The depth of corruption in the procurement of the corona virus personal protective equipment (PPEs) implicates even the president's son and the president himself and the money misappropriated in the process was enough to cushion all the essential health services professionals.

This catastrophe has President Emmerson Mnangagwa's leadership shortcomings written all over as he pontifies over the corruption where every dollar that gets into the public health system a thousand vanish into individuals' pockets.

"the healthcare workers protesting is symptom of a bigger problem; in our case the problem is our government's inability to manage the countries resources" Sindiso Ncube an activist for political change commented.

The health workers are unrelenting in their fight and should they maintain their resolve the state of the country's public health remains pitiable as the government officials would rather keep accumulating wealth at the expense of saving lives.


Source - Godard Thabani Bvungidzire
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.

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