Doctors should value people’s lives
IN AS much as doctors’ demands are valid, it is also essential for them to consider the precious lives of the people of Zimbabwe who need their special attention across the nation.
Among other challenges, it has been reported that the doctors are demanding an upward review of on-call allowance and $16 rural allowance per month for all Government doctors in rural areas.
The doctors are also demanding Government to subsidise purchase of vehicles as well as the implementation of the vehicle duty free framework that they previously agreed with the Health Service Board.
Since it is a right for every individual to access health services, doctors should try to have their concerns resolved while they are at work rather than completely putting down their tools.
The Ministry of Health and Child Care should initiate dialogue with doctors, which should provide a lasting solution to these challenges to avoid a perennial occurrence of these strikes.
The on-going strike by doctors has a negatively impacted on the quality of healthcare services and is causing countless suffering to desperate patients in Government hospitals. Many horror stories are being told of patients who are dying unnecessarily.
In addition, strikes destabilises the operations of the health sector and disaster preparedness in case of a disease outbreak more-so currently with a cholera alert hanging around the country.
Presently, the country is facing financial constraints, a situation which the new dispensation is working tirelessly to resolve.
In that regard, doctors’ representatives should peacefully engage Government on the way forward whilst patients are receiving their treatment at hospitals.
Since patients’ lives are in the hands of doctors, it is of paramount importance that doctor’s work in interest of same.
Today’s doctors should emulate the works of the late Dr Timothy Stamps and Florence Nightingale. These two were so dedicated to their work even under stringent conditions.
Nightingale was a pioneer of modern nursing. Nightingale gave nursing a highly favourable reputation and became prominent while serving as a manager of nurses during the Crimean war, where she organised and tended to wounded soldiers.
The same was also noticed during Dr Stamps time.
Dr Stamps believed in the welfare of the poor and that if the cycle of poverty and ill health was to be broken, doctors must support access to health care as a universal human right.
It should be known that doctors’ strikes increase the mortality rate in public hospitals.
Worse off, the loss of lives of bread-winners due to doctors’ strike causes poverty and puts pressure on families, society and the economy.
However, there is need for the responsible authorities to consider some of the demands mentioned by these doctors. For instance, there is need for Government to provide adequate stocks of drugs at all Government hospitals.
One of the achievements that President Mnangagwa’s administration managed to do in the first 100 days in office is to provide free maternal health care, free treatment of children below five years and adults above 65 years.
Nonetheless, this positive development needs to be supported by sufficient resources for example the much needed medication.
In addition, the Government should be encouraged to consider other non monetary incentives that aid in uplifting the living standards of these doctors.
For instance, providing doctors with residential stands as well as scrapping duty on vehicles purchased outside the country.
With that having been said, the Government and the Health Services Board should reach a consensus before any more lives are lost.
My appeal is that, doctors should remember their Hippocratic Oath which values patients’ lives above all else.