Health services at the Muhimbili Orthopaedic Institute (MOI) in Dar es Salaam came to a standstill yesterday in the wake of a go-slow by doctors, with patients complaining of being abandoned.
The latest strike by the doctors comes after the government's alleged failure to work on their long-standing demands.
A survey by the Guardian showed that there were no doctors at MOI as the patients roamed the corridors without being attended to.
MOI public relations officer was nowhere to be seen as administration offices were locked and the mobile handsets of the relevant officials were switched off.
Patients who were interviewed expressed their anger at the deteriorating health situation at the hospital.
“I wonder where this country is heading to…this is the second strike and no solution to the problem is in sight," complained Asha Omary, a resident of Kibamba, on the outskirts of the city.
Omary said she had an appointment with a doctor yesterday, but when she arrived at the hospital she was informed that the doctors were on strike.
“I am really puzzled…I came here at 8:00 am, only to find that no service is being provided,” she said.
Peter Kawiche from Vingunguti who had brought his son for a medical check-up at MOI blamed the situation on the government’s inaction and lack of seriousness to work on the doctors’ concerns.
“I agree with the doctors…because they are demanding their rights, but the government does not want to listen,” said Kawiche.
However, services were being provided at Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) as a few doctors were seen busy moving up and down attending to patients.
Patients who were interviewed by this paper said the medics were attending to the patients, but the speed of service delivery was a bit slow.
“I can see patients being attended to, but the situation is not as good as it used to be during the past few days,” Bakari Hamza, a resident of Kawe, noted, adding, “Due to the deteriorating health services some patients are being transferred to other health facilities.”
“The government should do something about this before it gets out of hand,” he added.
Services at Temeke hospital were normal as doctors were busy attending to patients.
The hospital’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Amani Malima, confirmed that the situation at the hospital was normal despite the announced strike, adding: “The number of patients coming for treatment is increasing…no doctor has downed tools.”
Reports from Mwanza said the impact of the strike was now being felt as relatives and friends started taking their patients from Bugando referral hospital, citing poor services at the facility.
The Guardian found very few patients at the hospital, with some patients confirming that service delivery had slowed down compared to previous days.
“After announcement about the strike was made I have met my doctor only once, Majaliwa Hussein (27) said.
Ating Mwanza Regional Commissioner Baraka Konisaga yesterday visited the hospital and appealed to the striking doctors to resume work in order to save the lives of innocent patients.
Doctors and medical interns at the hospital declared that the latest strike would have great impact because the government had deliberately abandoned and neglected their demands.
“Any government attempt to employ excessive force and propaganda in ending the strike will not bear fruit,” said one of the doctors at the hospital.
In Mbeya reports say that the situation is worsening as doctors at Mbeya referral hospital downed their tools.
Mbeya Referral Hospital Director Dr Eliuter Samky confirmed yesterday that a total of 45 doctors, including interns, had gone on strike.
“It’s chaotic…service delivery has been greatly affected due to the doctors refusal to work. We are forced to use the few doctors who are ready to continue providing service,” said Samky.
Meanwhile the doctors said yesterday that they have yet to receive the order issued by the Labour Division of the High Court last Friday, banning the strike.
Dr Stephen Ulimboka who is the chairperson of the doctors' committee said yesterday that doctors had no reason to defy a court, if there was one, but so far had not officially received any.
“Doctors know the law. The court should have notified us officially by ‘correspondence’, and not through the media. The government should stop politicking. We stress that the strike will go on until our basic demands are addressed," he said.
Efforts to get comments from Health and Social Welfare Minister Dr Hussein Mwinyi proved futile yesterday as his phone went ununswered.
Last week Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda warned that if the doctors went ahead with their planned strike they would be violating the law because the matter was still being worked on by the government.