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THE ZIMBABWE ASSOCIATION OF DOCTORS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS (ZADHR) has claimed that the mortality rate at public hospitals shot up from 50% to 70% during the 31-day industrial action by health professionals, who were demanding an improvement to their working conditions.
The doctors’ month-long strike ended this week after Health Service Board agreed to review their on-call allowances and to provide equipment needed in hospitals as well as essential medicines and drugs.
ZADHR secretary-general, Evans Masitara told the NewsDay yesterday that though an agreement had been reached, the perennial strikes caused untold suffering, especially to the poor, who cannot afford medical insurance and rely on the public health delivery system for services.
“The recent strike went on for 31 days and at its peak, all central hospitals had stopped taking in new patients,” he said.
“Statistics of the exact mortality rates have been difficult to get due to resistance by hospital administration, but the few doctors, who reported for duty and certified deceased patients reported an increase of 50% to 70% in deaths over the period, with the most affected being victims of road traffic accidents, children and pregnant women with labour complications.
“The loss, in terms of human resource component to the nation, is cause for alarm. Families lost breadwinners and some lives were cut short before they even begun. Individuals, who under normal circumstances would have been assisted and restored to health, ended up unnecessarily losing their lives while the government was dragging its feet in addressing issues, which have been raised repeatedly over the years.”
Masitara called on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to launch a full investigation into “this unnecessary loss of lives and give concrete recommendations to avoid this happening in the future including possible compensation to the relatives of the deceased”.
“We would like to remind our government of their constitutional obligation to provide health to its citizens as enshrined in our Bill of Rights. We also call for the immediate dissolution of the Health Services Board, as they are clearly sleeping on duty. The hospital management boards and hospital management systems also need urgent review,” he said.
“As much as we appreciate government’s role in addressing the salary concerns, which has resulted in doctors resuming duty, we also urge them to address the other issues raised during the strike, which include provision of drugs, buying equipment, modernising infrastructure and lifting the posts freeze to allow efficient and effective delivery of healthcare services.” By Wongai Zhangazha newsday