Zimbabwe Health Workers Down Tools Amid Covid-19

A medical staff member wears protective equipment while closing a window at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases Hospital in Harare on March 11, 2020, as they demonstrate their state of preparedness to treat the COVID-19 coronavirus in the event the epidemic reaches Zimbabwe where five suspected cases have tested negative. (Photo by Jekesai NJIKIZANA / AFP)

Zimbabwe medical doctors and nurses have downed tools claiming lack of Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) needed in the fight against Covid-19.

The Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association president, Dr. Tawanda Zvakada has said.

“Pursuant to the meeting we had on Monday 23 March 2020. In which we communicated to you our genuine grievances and expressed our fears concerning this deadly pandemic which has not spared healthcare workers as well.

“We expected an urgent response in writing from your office which has not come up until now. We have expressed to you the issue of PPE which is still not yet available. The way in which the Hospital is to be functioning still remains vague,” said Dr. Zvakada in a statement

Zvakada said the current conditions did not permit normal service delivery.

“Whilst you continue to run around putting things in place we would like to make it clear in no uncertain terms that our members will not be able to continue carrying out their duties with immediate effect.

“Any inconveniences caused regarding this position we have taken is sincerely regrettable but it was necessitated by a communication breakdown between the top management and frontline doctors. Given the urgency of the matter and the need for social distancing a hard copy version of the same letter will be hand delivered when the conditions are permissive,” he said

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) secretary general Douglas Chikobvu has said they had given the government 48 hrs ultimatum over the same matter and has since lapsed hence they are also temporarily withdrawing services.

“We as nurses have agreed to withdraw our services forthwith. The umbrella body that represent all health workers (nurses included) gave the government a 48 hour ultimatum which has expired today.  Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union (ZPNU) has urged all nurses to temporarily withdraw our services till our demands for Personal Protective Clothing  and Equipment is availed, Corona Risk Allowance, sanitisers,” Chikobvu said

He added “These demands are genuine, clear since they bare part of our tools of trade that capacitate us to adequately fight against this global epidemic. We urge fellow citizens to take all the necessary precaution, adhere to all hygiene measures, stay at home, avoid milling around towns and cities and avoid unnecessary movements. We will only return for duty until our demands as nurses are addressed.”

Zimbabwe has recorded three cases of the deadly virus and with one confirmed death.