The Striking Doctors’care taker committee has said it does not recognise the team formed by police to investigate the kidnapping and beating of Dr Stephen Ulimboka and instead wants an independent probe.
Speaking on behalf of a group of ten doctors attending to their battered colleague, Dr Edwin Chitage the Secretary General for the Doctor’s Association, also told journalists that Dr Ulimboka’s health is ‘improving’.
“His condition is getting comparatively better …we praise God … I am sure that he will soon recover fully …” said the optimistic doctor. He promised to give his progress on a daily basis.
Dr Chitage stressing that they have rejected the probe team due to the circumstances of the incident which Dr Ulimboka experienced, said:
“The situation itself it confusing and contradictory which raises many questions as to whether police are involved or not,” he said, adding: “The environment in which Dr Ulimboka was kidnapped indicates that police cannot be trusted to investigate the same incident.”
For his part, the leader of the team of doctors attending Dr Ulimboka,
Prof Joseph Kahamba, said he was improving and currently able to recognise and talk to people who visited him.
He said Dr Ulimboka was badly injured in various parts of his body and especially the brain, chest, hands. His two teeth plus nails were removed, he added.
In another development, the Medical Association of Tanzania Chairman Dr Namala Nkopi showed reporters a video recording where Dr Ulimboka is seen saying: “I am improving. I am feeling pain. Please I would like to rest. I cannot see anybody now. They should please wait till I get better,” say Dr Ulimboka.
The security of Dr Ulimboka is in the hands of the doctors themselves, according to the leaders, and that they don’t want anybody to guard him, except themselves.
Meanwhile the association has warned the government to stop threatening doctors countrywide and especially those working at Dodoma regional hospital, where the chairman of the striking doctors caretaker committee, Dr Cassian Mkuwa confirmed that eleven intern doctors have been suspended for continuing with the strike.
Mkuwa said they were suspended yesterday morning while on a go slow at the hospital.
He said before suspending them, the Dodoma Regional Medical in-charge, Dr Ezeliel Mpuya called all the interns and talked to them and later gave the eleven letters of suspension.
But according to him the interns refused to receive the letters and were told to leave the hospital.
For his part, Dr Ezekiel Mpuya said he knew nothing concerning the claims, and that he was only aware that the eleven had gone on strike and were therefore not supposed to be at the hospital.
In Mbeya 72 doctors including 54 interns and 18 registered doctors have been suspended and told to report to the permanent secretary ministry of health and social welfare.
The acting Mbeya Regional Commissioner Dr Norman Sigala told reporters of the action taken.
His words were supported by the Director of the referral hospital, Dr Eliuta Samky who said the 72 doctors have been suspended. He said they have been on strike since the action was announced.
The interns who have been suspended have been ordered to vacate their places immediately under the supervision of security officers.
Meanwhile the Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) has condemned the attack on the doctor and expressed their concern at the way the government is handling the doctor’s strike.
Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Chadema) has called upon the government to form an independent committee to investigate the attack. In his press statement Chadema’s publicity secretary John Mnyika said that President Jakaya Kikwete should intervene in the matter since the government has failed to fulfill its promise to end the doctors’ strike by allocating 25 percent of the 2012/13 fiscal year budget towards the health sector. Mnyika advised the president to use his constitutional powers to reallocate more funds to the health sector.
Andrew Dafron, an Iringa town resident, would like, despite formation of the police committee to investigate the matter, a public release on findings conducted by the parliamentary committee formed to look into the doctor’s strike in March of this year.
“We want to know the parliamentary committees’findings since they have used a lot of resources which is our tax money…” said a disgruntled Dafron.
Dar es Salaam resident Christine Ramson urged top officials not to ‘politicise’ the issue saying the doctor’s strike affects millions of Tanzanians unjustly.
Morogoro, Hendrick Kipanda Semtema called the attack ‘unjust and unacceptable.’ In his opinion, “…the doctors should not be threatened…their concerns should be considered…”
Rashid Senguje, a Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA) student said the police committee should neither spare effort nor leave stone unturned in pursuing Ulimboko’s and truly all Tanzanians’ justice.
“…we want to know what exactly happened …”
A survey by this paper reveals what most Tanzanians seeking medical care painfully already know, services in most public hospitals across the entire country are at a standstill.
It is only Amana regional hospital in the Ilala district in Dar es Salaam that nurses and intern doctors are stepping in to attend emergency patients and other chronic cases.
Dr Ulimboka was on Wednesday morning found badly injured after being attacked by unidentified persons. Reports that were confirmed by Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander said that the assault occurred an hour before midnight at the Leaders club where, according to police statements, he had gone in response to an anonymous call.
He was on arrival kidnapped, driven to the city outskirts where he was to be found the following morning severely beaten. Suspects are yet to be arrested and the anonymous call remains yet to be traced.