A cross-section of medical doctors sing a solidarity song during their meeting in Dar es Salaam on Friday. Ministers, Ms Hawa Ghasia (President’s Office Public Service Management), Dr Haji Mponda (Health and Social Welfare) and his Deputy, Dr Lucy Nkya, Permanent Secretary Ms Blandina Nyoni and Chief Medical Officer, Dr Deo Mtasiwa tried, in vain, to find a solution to their problem. (Photo by Mohamed Mambo)

Emergency services are likely to be suspended any time from now if the government will not give a rapid answer to satisfy the striking doctors’ demands at Muhimbili National Hospital and elsewhere in the country.

The interns along with other doctors are currently continuing with the strike all over the country and have vowed that they will not report at MNH until they (interns) are served with official letters.

Announcing the plan to suspend services in Dar es Salaam on Friday, the Chairman of the Doctors’ Association interim committee who are on strike, Dr Stephen Ulimboka, said that they will go ahead with the strike due to the fact that the government was issuing political statements that do not address their grievances.

The strike will be called off only if Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda intervenes. “We only trust the Prime Minister,” said Dr Ulimboka.
He also said that doctors were aware that this stance is hurting innocent patients and other Tanzanians who are not involved in any way in this tug of war.

Dr Ulimboka made this announcement shortly after the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Haji Mponda, accompanied by his Deputy, Dr Lucy Nkya; the Minister of State in the President’s Office (Public Service Management), Ms Hawa Ghasia and the Permanent Secretary in his ministry, Blandina Nyoni left the Starlight Hotel Hall.

The minister was there to talk to the doctors. But the doctors were not in the mood to listen to the Minister for Health and his delegation on the pretext that they have lost confidence in them. Minister Ghasia saved the day when she went on to read a statement from Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda which provided some answers to some of the striking doctors’ questions.

However, some doctors were suspicious. They did not believe that the statement had come from the prime minister. When announcing their plan, Ulimboka said: “During these two to three days of waiting for the answers from the prime minister we can suspend all the emergency services that are now offered in various hospitals in the country.

“This would prompt the government to understand the importance of resolving our problems which it has ignored for a long time.”
According to Ulimboka, the doctors are making arrangements so they advise President Jakaya Kikwete to take appropriate measures against the minister, the permanent secretary and the deputy minister so that such problems do not recur.

Responding to the arguments, Ms Ghasia said that the government has seen the importance of reinstating them (Interns) at Muhimbili National Hospital. The interns had been posted to stations in other hospitals. She said that they will be required to report at Muhimbili National Hospital starting on Monday. She further said that if there were any pending issues or demands, these will be addressed accordingly while they continue attending to the patients.

“I appeal to you to return to Muhimbili and take up your duties. The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare has decided to reinstate your services after realizing  your importance. And if there is any other demand, it will be given due attention and weight,” said Ghasia.

She also said that the question of accommodation for the doctors will be resolved since the government has received funds from the Global Fund for construction of 700 houses to be occupied by doctors.  As a starting point, the government is constructing 180 houses in 18 districts in the country. Every district will have 10 houses for doctors. We have received the funds for the construction of 700 houses,” said the minister.

However, the doctors insisted that they want to hear from the prime minister and not the ministers who were talking to them. According to Dr Stephen Ulimboka, the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) are demanding an increase in salaries. All doctors should get a 10 per cent of their monthly salaries as allowances when out of their homes and risk allowance at 30 per cent of their salaries.

Other demands include 30 per cent of their salaries as allowance for doctors with no houses to live in and 40 per cent of salaries as allowance for those living in rural areas with poor transport.

Source Tanzania Daily News

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