Zimbabwean doctors and nurses said Friday a plan to pay an extra $37 in risk allowance for dealing with the deadly coronavirus is a slap in the face, according to media reports.
“It’s an insult to the doctors who are the frontline soldiers right now in this battle,” Secretary of the Zimbabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights (ZADHR) Norman Matara, was quoted by The Zimbabwe Mail website. “We were already demotivated coming out of a strike, and this will demoralise a lot of doctors. Some doctors have already indicated they will stay home than risk their lives for a pittance.”
Dr. Anele Bhebhe from the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association also blasted the government, saying: “The government is sending health workers as sacrificial lambs for slaughter. The risk allowance offered is just ridiculous. These cadres are working without protective gear in a very unsafe environment. Certainly, they deserve to be compensated better.”
Health workers went on strike last month demanding risk allowances as well as personal protective equipment to help deal with the deadly virus.
They returned to work after the government committed to work on the complaints, according to the Zimbabwe Mail.
Matara appealed Thursday to the international community to take action to save the country from a “catastrophic attack,” considering its weak health system and struggling economy, according to the Newsday website.
Zimbabwe confirmed eight COVID-19 cases including one death, but health experts and the opposition contend the numbers are understated, a charge denied by government, according to The Zimbabwe Mail.
Zimbabwe has been suffering from a severe economic meltdown for the past two decades, resulting in inadequate medicines and general hospital supplies.
Donations from China and the United Arab Emirates have helped but Zimbabwean hospitals have remained poorly stocked and without water in most cases.
While the government maintains sanctions on top politicians are affecting economic reforms, the head of the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission (ZACC) said graft is the cancer that has eroded all economic gains.
“It’s not sanctions but corruption that has taken this country to its knees,” Justice Loice Matanda Moyo said in an earlier statement.
Zimbabwean have been experiencing inappropriate working conditions and low salaries even before the pandemic hit the African nation.
Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 181 countries and regions, according to data compiled by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The data shows more than 1 million cases have been reported worldwide, with the global death toll nearing 60,000 but more than 225,500 recoveries.