Talks have continued between the Prime Minister’s Office and medical practitioners in public facilities with the aim of striking a final deal, despite the latter’s threat to resume striking countrywide tomorrow.
In an interview with The Guardian, the Prime Minister Office (PMO) spokesperson, David Kirway said the government is preparing grounds for talks with the doctors, and has therefore requested the general public to remain patient.
“I have no evidence that the doctors are planning to resume the strike…what I understand is that the government is now looking for tangible solutions to their problems. We are focusing on mutual consensus and agreement through dialogue,” Kirway said, adding: “At this juncture, the public should not worry…but be patient.”
The official said the negotiations that started on March 1, this year, will come up with solutions and strategies to end the problem.
On the doctors’ call that Health and Social Welfare minister Dr Haji Mponda and his deputy Dr Lucy Nkya resign, Kirway said the ministers’ resignation is something that has to be decided by the President.
“The President is the last authority on this matter. Resignation of the Health minister is beyond the authority of the Prime Minister...we are waiting for the last word from the President,” he said.
Dr Mponda yesterday refused to be drawn to comment on whether he would quit as demanded by the doctors, saying through the ministry’s spokesperson that the decision on whether to or not to resign is in the hands of the appointing authority.
For her part, Deputy minister Dr Lucy Nkya, avoided a direct answer to the question, only saying: “I don’t have anything to comment on the issue. The matter is now in the hands of the President.”
Earlier last week, medical practitioners in public hospitals gave a three-day ultimatum to the president to sack the Health and Social Welfare minister, Dr Haji Mponda and his deputy, Dr Lucy Nkya or else they would resume striking tomorrow.
The doctors issued this as their main condition that should be implemented before starting any negotiation with the government.
The doctors’ ultimatum was a reminder that the medics’ strike that severely hampered hospital services and caused scores of deaths among patients and put the government on tenterhooks appears not to have gone.
The doctors’ committee which met last Friday requested the President to sack the minister and his deputy because their presence in the ministry amounts to guaranteeing the lack of implementation of the pact entered with the government.
Besides the sacking of the two ministers, the doctors also demand improvement of their working conditions and availability of working tools and drugs.
They demanded salary increment from the current 957,700/- per month to between 3.5m/- and 7m/-.
They also demanded that their negotiations with the government on their welfare should not involve other health workers such as nurses and pharmacists.
The doctors also want the negotiated agreement signed and immediately implementation as agreed.