...Intern doctors, referred to as junior doctors in Zimbabwe, are on strike for better pay and working conditions, the umpteenth time the interns who effectively run public hospitals have downed tools to press for better remuneration since the country's economic crisis began seven years ago.
The doctors have defied a government directive earlier this week to return to work while their grievances are being examined, insisting they would only call off the strike after firm commitment from the government to pay them Z$500 million per month, up from a present salary of $57 million which is way below the poverty datum line of $68 million.
The doctors also want the government to improve supplies of essential medicines and equipment in public hospitals, saying they are sick and tired of watching patients die of otherwise treatable diseases simply because there are no medicines.
But the strike has dealt a knock-out punch to the public health system that was already on its knees after years of mismanagement and under-funding.
For example at Mpilo and the United Bulawayo Hospitals - the two biggest referral hospitals in the city and the surrounding Matabeleland and Midlands province - only a handful of senior doctors could be seen attending to only the worst of emergency cases.
The outpatients departments at the hospitals were shut down.
It was the same situation at Harare Central hospital and at Parirenyatwa, the two biggest hospitals in the capital city and where ZimOnline reporters witnessed dozens of patients some on wheelchairs being turned away because there were no doctors....