Government and the Health Services Board have declared the ongoing strike by doctors as illegal and urged them to return to work immediately.
In a joint statement issued yesterday, the Ministry of Health and Child Care and the Health Services Board said some of the issues raised by the doctors among them locum payments, motor vehicle scheme, availability of equipment and medicines at hospitals and freeze of vacant positions had been addressed hence the strike is unnecessary.
Government said it had allocated $10 million for transport costs for doctors. The Ministry of Health added doctors’ posts have never been frozen and are available for all doctors completing internship in 2018. The statement reads:
At an Extraordinary BNP meeting on 16 February 2018, the following issues were addressed among others: the need for ensuring continuity of health services through the issuance of a revised Locum policy Circular 1 of 2018 covering all health workers in January 2018 that should improve the management of locum and therefore ensure availability of staff at all times. Payment started reflecting on the February 2018 payroll.
BNP agreed to a scheme to address the transport requirements for health workers. Following this agreement, Government recently allocated $10 million for the operationalisation of the scheme. This information was communicated to the ZHDA representatives at the Extraordinary BNP meeting of 15 February 2016,” reads the statement.
Government is aware that 160 doctors will be completing their internship in 2018. Currently there are 236 vacancies for Government Medical officers and Hospital Medical officers nationwide.
At the BNP meeting of 13 February 2018, Government advised workers’ representatives of plans to unfreeze critical vacant posts of other health cadres.
Workers’ representatives have been requested to assist in the identification of such posts through BNP. These and other issues are under discussions within the framework of the BNP and there has been no declaration of a deadlock on any of those issue.