UK-based Billionaire Breaks Zimbabwean Doctors’ Strike

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Strive Masiyiwa, founder and chairman of Econet Wireless Global Ltd., speaks during the annual Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills , California, U.S., on Monday, May 2, 2016. The conference gathers attendees to explore solutions to today’s most pressing challenges in financial markets, industry sectors, health, government and education. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The months-long strike action from Zimbabwean government doctors has crippled parts of the country’s public healthcare service.

Zimbabwean doctors are heading back to work after a months-long strike over wages that has debilitated state healthcare services.

The national Hospital Doctors Association (ZHDA) released a statement on Tuesday encouraging public doctors to apply for a fellowship initiative launched by a Britain-based billionaire to help break the impasse.

But the statement also warned that such an initiative would be a temporary answer, and said it “remained eager and committed” to “finding a long lasting solution” with relevant authorities.

The strikes have paralysed an already under-resourced system
Image:The strikes have paralysed an already under-resourced system

The fellowship programme, which was launched by the charitable foundation of telecoms mogul Strive Masiyiwa, will give doctors an allowance over six months.

“Putting the patient first, we are furthering our commitment to supporting our healthcare system and enabling more people to receive the critical care they need and deserve,” the foundation said.

It comes days after an executive from the Senior Hospital Doctors Association (SHDA) met with Zimbabwean vice president Constantino Chiwenga and agreed to “upscale” its healthcare offering.

During the strike, senior doctors were tending to emergency cases only but, after the meeting, this was upgraded to include urgent cases, too.

This agreement came after Mr Chiwenga was said to have promised “a holistic approach to handling the situation”, the association said.

Zimbabwe’s state doctors have been striking since September following disputes with the government over low pay.

It was sparked by the country’s latest economic crisis in which soaring inflation has rekindled concerns of hyperinflation repeating the same damage it inflicted years earlier.

Hundreds of junior doctors, who launched the initial strike, were fired during the early stages of the demonstrations – and prompted senior members of staff to also take part.

This snowballing led to the paralysis of a hospital system already struggling with a lack of resources.

In a statement, the SHDA thanked the fellowship programme for its offer to prop up the salaries in the meantime, but warned: “Doctors’ salaries remain low and unable to sustain their ability to offer full service.”

It added: “Doctors hope the government will honour its responsibility of paying a liveable wage to its workers soon.”-Skynews

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