Harare – The Zimbabwean government has sent military doctors to public hospitals to help them cope with a week-long doctors’ strike, a Health Ministry official said Thursday.
“There are a lot of trained doctors in the army and we can always call on them when we have a crisis like this one,” Gerald Gwinji told dpa.
The striking doctors are demanding an increase in call allowances and better working conditions.
The strike comes at a time when a contraction of the economy has forced the government to cut public spending, with health care facilities short of drugs all over the country.
“I went to Parirenyatwa Hospital yesterday and they referred me back to my local council clinic for further observation,” said Eugene Mawoyo, a cancer patient resident in the capital Harare.
“The problem is that at the clinic they do not have adequate drugs, expertise and equipment to cater for the special needs of most patients. So it’s like we are being told to go and die,” he added.
The doctors launched their strike shortly before the 93rd birthday of President Robert Mugabe, who has ruled the southern African country for nearly 37 years and whom critics accuse of ruining the economy.
Mugabe’s birthday fell on Tuesday, but the ruling party will celebrate it on Saturday.