HARARE – Middle-level doctors on Tuesday joined the industrial action by junior doctors, as Health Minister Obadiah Moyo called a crisis meeting with union leaders for 10AM on Wednesday.

Middle-level doctors walked out on Tuesday, joining the strike for improved working conditions by junior doctors which started on December 1.

The middle-level doctors, in various notices to government hospitals countrywide, said they had been forced to join the industrial action after they became “overwhelmed by the volume of work” which meant that they could “no longer discharge our services expeditiously and to the best of our ability.”

“Moreover, we are also in full agreement with the grievances raised, which also affect us and we are fully agreed that urgent intervention to the same is required,” middle-level doctors at Harare Central Hospital and the Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals said in a joint statement.

Middle-level doctors at Chitungwiza Central Hospital, in their notice to strike, said they had become overwhelmed with work after hospitals shut down their outpatient departments due to the absence of junior doctors who are the first point of contact for patients.

The doctors called on the government to address their grievance “in the shortest possible time to restore normalcy in smooth delivery of healthcare services.”

Health Minister Moyo has invited the unions to a meeting on Wednesday, having previously dismissed the strike as illegal.

Mthabisi Bhebhe, the Secretary General of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association which represents more than a thousand members, said most junior doctors at the five major hospitals had downed tools to protest over pay, allowances and drug shortages.

Bhebhe said they are under-staffed, underpaid and there are no medicines in the hospitals. He says the duration of the industrial action depends on when the government gives a proper practical solution.