PATIENTS lay helpless in corridors and in courtyards at the country’s main hospitals on Monday after health workers went on strike.
At Sally Mugabe Hospital, patients seeking treatment could be seen waiting for nurses and doctors protesting outside.
“I was told that there will not be any treatment without a Covid-19 test and the only people who can do this are the nurses on strike,” a middle aged woman told The NewsReportLive.
At 8 am, health workers had already deserted their posts as they gathered for an address at the hospital’s main car park.
Health workers vowed to continue with the strike to push for better pay.
Anti-riot police officers were stationed at Parirenyatwa Hospital amid fears the strike could degenerate into massive demonstrations.
Nurses could be seen milling around in small groups, conversing in hushed tones soon after they had delivered a petition to Health Services Board (HSB) offices, alongside junior doctors at the institution.
Some held placards bemoaning their working conditions and salaries, while other chanted songs.
Zimbabwe Nurses Association (Zina) president, Enock Dongo warned that a prolonged strike would lead to deaths.
“We are going to lose lives. People are going to die because of the arrogance and lack of the rule of law which is being practiced at ministerial level. They are very arrogant,” Dongo said.
The government and health workers are at an impasse over pay, as inflation in Zimbabwe jumped to 131.7% in May, a grim echo of the hyperinflation that wiped out everyone’s savings a decade ago.
Last week, government workers ejected a below-inflation 100% wage hike offer, demanding payment in United States dollars.
“If you look at the number of the health workers outside, and the brain drain that has happened over the past months, it means we are already short staffed. To have this large number of health workers outside, we know that there is a disaster in there. We call urgently a dialogue with government.This should not go for 24 hours then we are going to lose lives. It is not good for our country,” Dongo said.