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Expedite wage talks with health workers, Govt urged

A Bulawayo based non-governmental organisation, Habbakuk Trust, has implored the government to expedite negotiations with striking health workers to reduce unnecessary loss of lives.

In June, health workers embarked on a nationwide industrial action over poor salaries and safety concerns in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, wage negotiations between the health workers and the government have not yielded any positive results with President Mnangagwa on Thursday appealing to the health workers to return to work.

“I call for our medical staff to act in the national interest and exhibit a sense of responsibility. My government has always listened to your concerns. We will continue to address all your problems but this cannot be enjoyed through loss of lives,” Mnangagwa made the plea at the burial of Agriculture minister Perrance at the National Heroes Acre in Harare.

In a statement by Habakkuk Trust’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Dumisani Nkomo said the situation at Mpilo Central hospital is alarming as people spend long hours on queues without assistance.

“The absence of essential workers has reached alarming levels as patients wallow in queues without any form of clinical assistance. A report from Mpilo pediatric casualty ward indicates that children presenting emergencies such as burns and poisoning were not being attended to,” he said.

“A Habakkuk Trust community advocate who had visited the hospital for medical care said minors requiring urgent medical care for serious injuries were wailing in agony as there was no doctor to offer medical assistance.”

He added that city`s poor health care system has been worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The deplorable state of the City’s health care delivery system comes during a spike in Covid-19 local transmissions that which have deemed Bulawayo as the country’s Covid-19 epicentre,” said Nkomo.

“Analysts have cited that the rise in Covid-19 community and institutional deaths may be owed to the absence of immediate health care resulting from the failure by the government to address the impasse.”

He added: ”Habakkuk Trust, therefore, implores the government of Zimbabwe to expedite negotiations with the relevant apex bodies as lives are being lost unnecessarily.”

Mpilo hospital is the only referral hospital in the southern part of the country that is attending to non-Covid-19 related ailments after the government turned United Bulawayo Hospitals (UBH) into a Covid-19 isolation and treatment centre.

To date, about 151 health workers in Bulawayo have tested positive for the virus.

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