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Let wisdom prevail in handling doctors` strike

5th February 2012
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Editorial cartoon

There’s no doubt that the current doctors’ strike has created a health crisis in Tanzania, a country already burdened by so many burdens especially from an economic point of view. This country has just recovered from the worst power rationing, and is still struggling with surging inflation which has reached the 20 percent milestone.

Power tariffs have just gone up by 40.5 percent a few weeks ago, and the economy is in abysmal performance, putting the lives of millions of Tanzanians at the crossroads.

The rate of unemployment is alarming with many youths who have just graduated struggling to get jobs, while millions survive on less than a dollar per day.

 In a country that has been in such a difficult situation economically, the ongoing doctors’ strike is unwanted by any stretch of right or tactic, and therefore wisdom should prevail to end the current crisis. The health system is fragile, marred by overcrowding of patients in our dilapidated hospitals and acute shortage of qualified health personnel.

Now when this fragile health system is forced to accommodate the current doctors’ strike, it is the people who bear the brunt. The doctors who are on strike as well as the hostile government should understand that the people who are dying today in our hospitals as well as those who are suffering because of this crisis are the ones whose taxes funded their education.

Both sides should understand that there comes a time when Tanzania is more important than anything else and therefore in solving this crisis the people’s interests should be the first priority.

While we agree that our doctors need better pay and working conditions, what we can’t comprehend is a prolonged strike at the expense of Tanzanians who have got nothing to do with the demands of health personnel.

Medical  professionals had demanded a 300.6 percent salary rise for a medical doctor who has just completed internship, up from the current Sh957, 770 to Sh 3.5 million as basic salary per month, which would go up to sh7.7 million inclusive of all allowances.

As per demands for senior specialists, monthly emoluments would go up to Sh17 million a month, the figure which the government argues that it can not afford considering its salary budget and the size of employed medial personnel.

 At the same time while we understand the financial position of the government, what we can’t afford is a thuggish style in dealing with the current crisis. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and therefore the government should be more diplomatic, led by courage and wisdom.

The government should understand that in this crisis, it has got more stakes to lose than the striking doctors. Doctors should also understand the economic situation before making outrageous demands, which at the end of the day can’t be afforded by We as taxpayers of this country.

There’s no justification of anybody in this country to demand a 300 percent salary increment because it’s unfair to everyone. Better salaries and other fringe benefits should be a process, not a matter of hours or weeks.

 On the government’s side, there should be an offer on the table. For instance if it can’t afford the doctors’ 300 percent salary increment, the government should state clearly what it can currently give. Bluffing or sweeping statements containing threats and ultimatum are useless bearing in mind the crisis we are facing as a nation.

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY
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