As the impasse between medical doctors and their employer, government continues in Zimbabwe, the sick and their relatives continue to suffer due to the unavailability of services at public hospitals.
A popular African proverb says “when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers,” meaning the weak get hurt in conflicts between the powerful, this has been the case for the sick in Zimbabwe.
A visit to Harare’s main hospitals, Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals and Harare Hospital by the ZBC News Online team revealed that very few patients are still going to these hospitals for assistance at the moment.
On the surface, one might think this is because people have found alternatives, like private hospitals, but alas, it is because most people who come to these hospitals for assistance are left unattended, with less than a handful of doctors serving patients at both institutions.
Citizens with relatives admitted at Parirenyatwa Hospital are having to spend long nights on the hospital benches as they can no longer afford the exorbitant transport fares, playing cat and mouse with security guards on empty stomachs as they are not allowed on the premises after visiting hours.
One Kadoma based lady whose husband is a cancer patient admitted at the hospital since August told ZBC News Online that she has had to carry her blanket with her all the time, as she has to spend several nights at the hospital.
“My husband has been admitted here since August and he was getting treatment then, he recently got diagnosed and is in need of chemotherapy and there are no doctors here to assist and we have no money to go to the private hospitals as they need USDollars ” she said.
“We are not sure what the way forward is as he will be discharged soon with no hope of getting treated.
“I have had to sleep here on the benches inside with my blanket and the security guards are always chasing us because people are not allowed to sleep here but I have no option because I cannot afford the transport fares.”
The Head of the Emergency Unit at Parirenyatwa Hospital, Dr Joseph Zanza, was the only doctor on duty at the time when the ZBC News Online crew visited the hospital and he had taken up the responsibility of trying to serve as many patients as he could.
There were reports from those with patients admitted of other patients dying on the hospital benches with no one to help.
Meanwhile, the fight between the two ‘giants’ continues to rage on at the Labour Court, where the case between the Health Services Board (HSB) and the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) has been rolled over to October 10, on the grounds that the HSB should furnish the court with documents.
Justice Rodgers Manyangadze who presided over the matter on Tuesday is set to make a determination on the legality of the 38-day mass job action by medical doctors who have repeatedly snubbed their employer’s directives to return to work.
Government gave a directive on Saturday advising doctors to report for duty on Monday at 0800hrs or disciplinary action for breaching their contracts but the order fell on deaf ears.
This comes after the doctors rejected offers tabled by government.
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