The cat-and-mouse game involving the medical professionals and the government has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons as the country continues to witness one of the most health crises in the country’s history.
Apparently the government has lost sight of amicable ways that would have resolved the crisis in a less disruptive manner than what is happening right now.
The public is increasingly growing tired as medical professionals have proved to be our last line of resistance in time of illness and I felt obligated to comment.
Until recently, medical professionals-doctors-if you prefer that term had seemingly enjoyed the symbiotic relationship with the government in a benign equilibrium-but this relationship has now degenerated into what we can rightly call the Darwinian struggle for existence between doctors and the authorities.
Sadly for both, in a contest of this magnitude as Darwin claimed, natural selection operates and individuals flourish or perish depending on how well they suit their environment.
While it is true that biological evolution, or survival of the fittest - if you prefer that phrase - takes place in a relatively pitiless natural environment and we are no longer living in the Darwinian era, I find it easy to draw interesting parallels between the Darwinian struggle for existence and the current doctor crisis, not least after unidentified thugs with brains of a cow and morals of a wildcat kidnapped and tortured Dr StevenUlimboka (the Doctors’ Association leader) to near-death.
But one thing is for sure: Whoever committed this grievous act and whatever their motive, their action was based on a flawed understanding of both life and death. Let’s face it: No one lives forever; we all have to die one way or the other. In fact, we are living on borrowed time.
There are already divergent schools of thought but the balance of opinion favours those who believe that the authorities had their fingerprints on what happened to Dr Ulimboka- and with good reason- though it is far from clear who actually did it.
The “liwalo na liwe” remark by Prime Minister Pinda, which literally translates into “come what may,” might well have been clarified in Parliament, but the inevitable question, why Dr-Ulimboka, still hangs in the air.
The proponents of this school of thoughts argue that “stop Ulimboka to stop the Doctors from striking” has been the government’s preferred modus operandi in dealing with crises.
If this proves to be the case then authorities must be suffering from the very ignorance of the law of unintended consequences.
From past evidence such tactics have created precisely the opposite effects. We have seen in the past how government handled or mishandled if you like-student’s crises in which student’s leaders have almost always been the target.
Mr. Kimaro or even James Mbatia’s experience at UDSM provides compelling evidence in support of this. Perhaps, there could never have been a better example that demonstrates the authorities ignorance of the Universal law of unintended consequence than the protracted SUA students’ crisis in 1998.
The crisis pitted the students against the authorities and the academics and has widely been regarded as one of the most successful students strikes in the history of the University as students surpassed expectations. No one got injured (at least from student’s perspective) although the authorities adopted similar tactics, which disastrously failed in the end.
“Stop Biashara to resolve the student crisis” was the authorities’ plan. I knew I would be the target as I was at the heart of things. But with the knowledge that neither professor Peter Msolla (then Deputy Vice-Chancellor) nor Mr. Mkapa could engage me in a legal battle and win, I set a trap and the authorities fell into it like a mouse; they did what I wanted and expected them to do- They had me thrown behind bars blindly thinking this would deter other students from boycotting the University exam. It’s far from it. My 2 days I spent in Coolers with criminals further galvanized students and this was a catalyst for our success.
My central point however, is not to prove or disprove anything as regard who was involved in assaulting Dr Ulimboka for this is for the independent commission of enquiry to decide.
But the doctors crisis and the growing mistrust between the government and the governed is an indication of the systemic failure at the heart of the health sector-and the authorities continued faith in the palliative as opposed to curative measures in dialing with crises is in no small part, to blame for what’s happening right now.
It is implausible to think the reactive rather than proactive approach will reduce the frequency as well as magnitude of these crises the country is witnessing right now.
What the authorities haven’t realized is that we are treading on the fine line and if we can telescopically cast our sight beyond the border to countries like Tunisia then you can clearly understand the valid point I am trying to make.
What springs to mind is the story of the 26 yr-old- Tarek Mohamed Bouazizi who set himself ablaze in front of the governor’s office in the town of Sid Boozed in Tunisia.
Bouazizi killed himself after the Municipal officers expropriated his two crates of pears and bananas and his self-immolation sparked a revolution in Tunisia which spread like bush fire to Egypt, Libya and currently Syria in what we now know as the Arab spring.
I have treated the subject to this length, as it is a common practice to use the past to clearly understand the present.
Some people have argued that the doctors’ crisis boils down to money or lack of it- but the claim that some external forces are bankrolling the doctors to strike is simply laughable though I can easily see the political appeal of this argument.
I believe there’re still better ways of resolving this crisis. Unfortunately the authorities have followed less than half of my advice in my previous articles but it should be clear now that the approach to these crises has to change.
As for Dr. Ulimboka, I wish him a speedy recovery.
You can reach me via firstname.lastname@example.org also on Facebook