By Staff Writer
Health workers have accounted for nearly a tenth of the country’s Covid-19 cases as pressure mounts on government to provide more Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for the frontline workers, a government official has said.
Cases of the respiratory ailment have been on the rise over the past few weeks with authorities warning that the worst is yet to come. This and the worsening economic situation has forced health workers to demand better PPEs and remuneration. As of Monday, the southern African nation had recorded over 2700 cases of COVID-19 and 34 fatalities related to the pandemic.
However the government has turned down demands by the country’s health professionals to be paid salaries in United States dollars saying the move could trigger the externalization of the greenback.
Zimbabwe is facing one of its worst economic crises in a decade which is characterized by rising inflation, low business activity and a weakening domestic currency. This comes against the backdrop of growing resentment with the public service.
Acting Health Secretary Gibson Mhlanga wrote to the Senior Doctors Association on Monday turning down the wage demands. Civic organisations and labour unions are planning to stage protests over the deteriorating economic situation and corruption in the public service.
“As of 28 July, a total of 253 health workers including student nurses had tested positive for COVID-19, Mhlanga wrote.”
“The Health Services Board with the guidance of the Acting Minister of Health have made submissions to Treasury to review health worker packages. However the government is not in a position to pay salaries in USD. Full US dollarization of the economy is a tried, tested and failed concept.”
Zimbabwe abandoned the multi-currency system which was dominated by the Zimbabwe dollar for its local unit last October. Experts, however, said the decision was not backed by key economic fundamentals as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to lose ground. Get all COVID-19 statistics for Zimbabwe from COVID-TRACKER