Doctors and nurses in Zimbabwe are striking to protest the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers in the nation’s hospitals, their unions said.
Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association spokesman Tapiwa Zvakada said doctors will not resume work until the government provides the proper gear they need for their protection while treating patients during the outbreak.
“We have decided to withdraw our services to allow for the administration to get requisite PPEs. We cannot continue to work without this. We also call upon the authorities to discuss with us the risk allowances because we are not spared by this disease,” Zvakada.
Zimbabwe has recorded three cases of Covid-19, and one of the patients — a popular broadcaster Zororo Makamba died on Monday at the Wilkins Infectious Diseases hospital in Harare.
Zimbabwe received a donation from the Jack Ma foundation that includes 200,000 test kits, 100,000 face masks and 10,000 protective suits for health workers, the health ministry said In a statement on Tuesday.
The Chinese government is currently building an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) unit at Wilkins hospital is for critical patients in the isolation facility, the minister said.
In a letter addressed to the government, Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association ( ZHDA), said the pandemic has not spared health workers and doctors working on the front-line need to be properly kitted to carry out their duties.
They are asking for N95 respirators, gowns, goggles and sanitizers when dealing with Covid-19 patients.
Nurses in the public hospitals who have also joined their strike on Wednesday said the health ministry have not responded to previous requests for PPE.
“It seems our concerns are not getting the urgency it deserves. So in that regard all nurses are withdrawing their services with immediate effect until there is genuine action taken by the employer,” the Zimbabwe Professional Nurses Union said in a statement.
Health minister Obadiah Moyo said he was not available for comment when CNN contacted him on Wednesday.
The country’s health sector has been hit by months of strikes and doctors often complain about not having enough medical supplies to treat patients fueling doubts among health workers about the country’s ability to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.