Some Doctors, Nurses In Zimbabwe Return To Work On Humanitarian Grounds

Armen Hareyan's picture

Some government-employed doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe havereturned to work on humanitarian grounds, but most are still on astrike that began last week and are demanding higher wages, Reutersreports (Banya, Reuters, 1/3). Thousands of healthworkers in the country also are leaving to find better-paying jobs inAustralia, Britain or South Africa, which is further affecting thecountry's HIV/AIDS situation and drug shortages (Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, 1/2).


State media on Thursday reported thatmost physicians returned to work after the government approved loansworth 100 million Zimbabwean dollars -- or about $3,400 -- for allstate employees, including health care workers. However, AmonSiveregi, president of the Zimbabwe's Hospital Doctors Association,said the strike has not been called off, contrary to reports."Negotiations with the ministry continue, and while it's truethat some doctors are turning up for work on humanitarian grounds,that doesn't mean the strike is over," Siveregi said (Reuters,1/3).

Zimbabwe's Health and Child Welfare Minister DavidParirenyatwa on Sunday said the government is negotiating withdoctors and nurses. "We are talking to them as we have alwaysdone through the Health Services Board, and we hope to reach someagreement soon," Parirenyatwa said. Zimbabwean doctors receiveabout 60 million Zimbabwean dollars, or about $2,000, monthly, andnurses receive about 30 million Zimbabwean dollars, or about $1,000,monthly. Student and army doctors are staffing government hospitalsand clinics during the strike. Doctors and nurses at private clinicscurrently are not involved in the strike.

The country'sefforts to increase access to antiretroviral drugs have been delayedby a shortage of foreign currency, which has increased poverty levelsand raised inflation by 3,700%. More than 3,000 people die ofAIDS-related illnesses weekly in the country, and 70% of hospitaladmissions in Zimbabwe are HIV/AIDS-related. According to the WorldHealth Organization, 321,000 people in the country are in need ofantiretrovirals, but only 91,000 people have access to the drugs. Inaddition, only about 6% of children in need of HIV/AIDS treatment arereceiving it. About 24% of people in the country in need ofantiretrovirals receive them, compared with an average of 28% acrosssub-Saharan Africa (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/2).

Reprinted with permission can view the entire KaiserDaily HIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and signup for email delivery at The Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is publishedfor, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser FamilyFoundation.