Specialist doctors have officially announced to join the ongoing strike by doctors following the government’s decision to sack some striking doctors, saying they would be overworked owing to acute understaffing.
So far about 300 intern doctors deployed in different referral and government hospitals in the country have been fired following the ongoing strike that commenced June 25th this year. Some doctors have already started to submit resignation letters to the MNH management.
Briefing journalists shortly after a four-hour doctor’s meeting on the government decision with regards to President Jakaya Kikwete’s end of month speech, Dr Catherine Mng’ong’o said that specialist doctors have resolved to join the strike until the government reinstates the intern doctors.
“We cannot continue providing services without the support from interns. If the government has decided to drive them out, then it has to start with the specialists,” she said, adding that the only solution to end disputes is for the government to open doors for discussions with the doctors.
Elaborating, Dr Mng’ong’o said in almost all referral hospitals specialist doctors work in support of intern doctors, so firing the interns is likely to affect the other parties.
With reference to the president’s speech, Dr Edwin Chitage, Secretary General of the Doctors' Association, said the President was misled and provided wrong information concerning their demands.
“There is a need to meet with President Kikwete because there are all indications that he has been fed with incorrect information”, he said.
He expressed disappointment over the government failing to address doctors core demands, stressing that salary increment is not their major concern. He said the doctors are struggling for improvement of working condition in health centres and availability of important working equipments.
President Kikwete said on Saturday that the government has no plans to increase monthly package for doctors, vowing to sack those who would continue with the strike.
He described the doctors’ proposals for salary increment and allowances as “too much” and beyond financial ability of the government adding that doctors in public hospitals who are not satisfied with the current pay package should feel free to resign and go to employers who can pay them better.
A spot survey conducted by The Guardian at the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH), Amana and Mwananyamala referral hospitals showed that patients were being attended to by intern doctors who are yet to join the strike.
Meanwhile, a press statement issued by MNH Public Relations Officer, Aminieli Aligaesha said services at the national hospital have started to stabilise after the doctors returned to work yesterday.
It said the evaluation conducted yesterday at the hospital from 8am to 5pm at the medical department showed that 19 specialist doctors out of 21 were at work.
At the childrens’ department, 14 specialist doctors out of 14 were at work while at the Out-Patient Department (OPD) all the doctors were present, including seven registrars.
It said the emergency medicine department has ten registrars who were all present at work.
A notice signed by Dr Marina Njelekela, the Director General and posted at MNH yesterday afternoon called on the striking doctors to resume work and register their names with the heads of departments.
“Heads of departments have to register all the doctors who have reported at work on July 2nd, 2012”, read part of the announcement.
According to the MNH management announcement, the deadline for registration is today.