UPND leader Hakainde Hichilema has called on the PF government to quickly resolve the doctors crisis.
Mr. Hichilema said Government must quickly address the concerns of Resident Doctors in order to avert a crisis in the delivery of health services in the country.
“We are concerned by reports that resident doctors are being threatened with arrests and intimidation, a situation which appears to be fueling the crisis instead of resolving it,” Mr Hichilema said.
“We are not being insensitive to the matter at hand, but we fear that if Government continues with its heavy handedness, the situation might get out of hand.”
He added, “We are aware that doctors fall under essential workers and are not unionized but this should not disadvantage them when they complain of unresolved issues. We expect authorities to give them a hearing so that industrial harmony is maintained.”
Doctors are demanding, among many other matters, the payment of salary arrears for 309 of their members, creation of positions for senior resident medical officers, registrars and consultants and recruitment of 500 graduate doctors who are currently roaming the streets without jobs.
Mr Hichilema has since called upon Labour Unions, the Civil Society and indeed ordinary citizens to speak out against such injustices saying doctors are workers, like any other worker and their plight should attract the interest of the Labour Movement and all stakeholders.
“The nation cannot expect the best from our doctors if they are subjected to frustrating conditions and such humiliation,” he said.
The UPND leader said the country is facing a serious health crisis through the ravages of Covid 19 and Government cannot afford to compromise the situation by fueling a go-slow among resident doctors when their plight can easily be addressed.
“It is saddening that with the high unemployment rate, political instability and the Covid-19 pandemic the country is facing, there is a looming go slow by doctors in our health system, and this is due to insincerity among those in positions of authority,” Mr Hichilema said.
“We implore Government to release funding in order to resolving the doctors’ plight and honour its obligations. Let us not set a precedent for other workers facing similar circumstances,” he said.
“I want to remind those in authority that if a Doctor is not in a proper disposition and is pleased with the conditions of service, that doctor cannot be expected to discharge his or her duties with utmost dedication.”
“Our fear is that thousands of innocent Zambians will be negatively impacted by the effects of this go-slow if the situation remains unresolved,” he said.
Mr Hichilema added, “I also urge the Labour Movement to help resolve this matter by applying their negotiation skills and ensure productivity levels in the health sector are maintained.”
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