Doctors and other health workers were yesterday divided over the call for a countrywide strike by the medical staff, with some reporting for duty and others clearly keeping their word by staying away.
The Guardian team in a survey of public hospitals in Dar es Salaam established that only Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) medical staff had responded to the strike call while in the other hospitals the doctors continued with work as usual.
The hospitals whose staff did not join the strike included Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Amana, Mwananyamala and Temeke referral hospitals in Dar es Salaam.
Reports also confirmed that there were no striking doctors in regional hospitals.
MNH public Relations Officer, Aminiel Aligaesha refuted reports that services at the hospital were stalled due to the doctors’ strike.
He said following the announcement of the strike the hospital management called an emergency meeting which involved heads of departments to evaluate the situation and satisfied themselves that there were no problems associated with the strike.
“I would like to inform the public that the hospital’s services have not been stalled and there is no strike involving either medical doctors or other health workers”, he said.
Some of the doctors at the referral hospitals affirmed that they did not participate in the strike, saying that the committee that was formed to follow up on their demands had no mandate to call a strike.
“We decided not to participate in the strike as instructed by the new doctors’ committee because we are bound by the Security of Employment Act.”
Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) was the only hospital that did not operate, indicating that its workers supported the committee’s announcement.
Services at MOI’s Outpatient Department (OPD) were stalled yesterday as most of the doctors were on strike.
MOI’s assistant Public Relations officer, Frank Matua said that they stopped providing OPD services to allow the few doctors who remained at the hospital to attend to emergency cases.
Meanwhile speaking to journalists yesterday, the doctors’ interim committee chairman, Dr Steven Ulimboka stressed that they will not resume work if the government does not address the poor working environment and lack of quality services.
He called on all the doctors countrywide to continue with the strike to press for their rights.
“We will continue with strike until the government responds to our demands …we are fed up with fake promises made by the ministry of health,” said Ulimboka.
He called on President Kikwete to sack the minister of health Dr Haji Mponda, deputy minister Lucy Nkya and the permanent secretary Blandina Nyoni.
The medical intern’s saga took another twist on Monday after the Medical Association of Tanzania leadership announced that the medics’ issue would now be handled by the doctors themselves.
MAT President Dr Namala Mkopi, said that doctors and medical interns have formed a new committee and picked their own leaders who would pursue their claims — starting from where MAT had left off.
The MAT top executive however blamed the government for failing to solve the interns’ problems in time.
MAT sought the intervention of the Prime Minister’s Office after meetings between the Deputy minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Lucy Nkya and doctors last Thursday broke down after they differed on the choice of venue, with the government suggesting Arnatouglo Hall instead of the venue organised by MAT who said they were the ones who had arranged for the meeting.
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN