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Badilisha Lugha KISWAHILI

Modest appeal to our doctors

26th January 2012
Editorial cartoon

Doctors, nurses and other medical staff in the country have complaints and grievances, all of us now know. They have publicly aired their voices complaints and grievances, we also know – as not only have we heard them complain, threaten, advise, appeal and recommend but we have hugely missed their professional attention and counsel.

Anyone questioning the strategic importance of physiologists, psychiatrists, neurosurgeons, physiotherapists, pharmacists, dentists, paediatricians, gynaecologists & obstetricians or any other medical experts, and we can’t imagine what planet such a person will be hailing from, now knows better.

In sickness, even ordinary citizens now know a thing or two about cardiologists, dermatologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, ophthalmologist, pulmonologists, podiatrist, otorhinolaryngologists and what have you, the apparent strangeness of the terms notwithstanding.

The strike by a section of these and other professionals has hit the nation where it hurts most. Although we know the action is not the first of its kind in Tanzania, it nevertheless is doubtless a horrendous experience we would not like to see running on for even one-tenth of a second more.

But we understand that some of these experts are still on strike or are making little more than technical appearances at their places of work, which effectively means that they are on duty only physically while the spirit is lying elsewhere.

Whatever the consideration, it’s bad, bad, bad, and hence our humble call to all those that are party to this delicate issue to think of an amicable end to this tragic saga. And the sooner there is a true and lasting breakthrough, the better for the sick and suffering and the nation as a whole.

We would be the last to pretend to know more about the professional ethics members of the medical fraternity are expected to abide by than the doctors, nurses, etc., themselves actually do.

Part of the little we know about what is known as the Oath of Hippocrates, under which new physicians and other healthcare professionals historically swore to practise medicine ethically, may have become obsolete and therefore irrelevant.

There are indeed countries where the oath, which underlines the need for medical staff always to place a premium on the interests of the sick by abstaining from whatever is harmful or mischievous, has been seriously challenged.

As noted, this is not the first time doctors and other medical experts in Tanzania have staged a strike, and the nature of their demands remains practically unchanged.

Some analysts see a link between these experts action and the raging debate on the reported hefty rise in sitting allowances for Members of Parliament, to which follow-up revelations by National Assembly Deputy Speaker Job Ndugai that fat allowances do not apply only to MPs appear to have added fuel.

But Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda yesterday expressed the government’s readiness to have an audience with representatives of the medical staff over what may be the root-cause of these experts’ grievances, with a view to finding a lasting solution.

It is our hope and prayer that, the professionals they are, the medics will capitalise on this chance and resume their all-important service to society without the slightest of grudges. The nation counts on them.

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