The doctors’ strike, announced by the Mozambique’s Medical Association of (AMM), continues to harm users of the National Health System (SNS), especially the most disadvantaged populations and residents in remote areas. The consequences of the strike, which has been taking place for a month, are evident almost everywhere in the country, at a time when the arm wrestling between the medical profession and the Government, represented by the Ministry of Health (MISAU), prevails.
In the face of government threats to dismiss/and or replace doctors who have failed to show up because of the demonstration, a large part of the strikers remains firm about paralyzing activities, claiming that even in the face of threats they will not back down.
The doctors’ demands are for improved working conditions, fair pay and overtime pay. In fact, last Saturday, in the context of the strike, the doctors paraded to emphasize their message on the improvement of working conditions, the provision of medicines for patients, as well as the provision of medical and surgical equipment and other conditions crucial for the successful functioning of health facilities across the country.
During the march, the doctors also demanded the provision of food, water and electricity in hospitals, as these are essential for the normal functioning of hospital units and the recovery of patients.
“It doesn’t make sense that hospitals don’t have supplies and medicines for patients. But, unfortunately, some chefs appear claiming that nothing is missing. This rally is a ‘stop’ to insensitivity, improvisation and intimidation”, said AMM president, Milton Tatia.
The march also focused on refuting the revision of the Doctors’ Statute. With the revision of the statute, the government intends to reduce the shift work allowance from the current 30% to 7.5%, within the scope of the Single Salary Table (TSU) in force in the Public Administration since October 2022.
In the proposal of the Ministry of Health, submitted to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Executive says that the revision will clarify the modality of overtime work, taking into account that the doctor and the dentist do not carry out activities during normal office hours, but in special services that, by their nature, are uninterrupted.
In this context, the Government wants to start paying overtime to doctors and dentists who work above the working hours in the regular work regime or shifts. The Government’s proposal also says that the provision of overtime is remunerated according to the hours corresponding to the salary of the doctor and dentist, and may exceed 1/6 of the salary of their salary level, i.e. 16.6% of the employee’s basic salary.
Therefore, the Government proposes to lower the ceiling provided for in the current Regulation, which provides for an allowance that may exceed 1/3 of the monthly salary of doctors, which is 33.3%.
On the other hand, the Executive intends to change from four to two the moments for the payment of the special diuturnity allowance, to adapt it to Article 28 of Law No. 25/2013, which approves the Statute of the Doctor in the Public Administration, which considers that “the diuturnity regime established for the Civil Service in general is also extended to doctors and dentists.”
AMM, in addition to demanding the cancellation of the proposal, says that the document has a very high degree of insensitivity on the part of the Government and that it is a great insult, not only to doctors, but also to the History of the country, because the current statute was approved after two major strikes in 2013. In fact, the government intends to annul an instrument even before ensuring its full implementation.
The Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS) believes that the submission of this proposal to the Prime Minister’s Office shows that the Government cares little for the people, since it creates more discontentment instead of solving the problems that are currently in force, extending the doctors’ strike and ultimately harming users, the main victims of the paralysis of activities.
In view of this arm wrestling between the parties, attendance at health units is increasingly becoming chaotic, characterized by long queues and slow service, as reported by OCS last week (https://www.observatoriodesaude.org/en/extension-of-the-doctors-strike-users-of-national-health-system-consider-themselves-abandoned-by-doctors-and-disrespected-by-government/).
For the OCS, there must be an understanding between the parties, especially on the part of the Government, so that the strike ceases as soon as possible and users return to have assistance in the Health Units without the current constraints.
AMM claims to care about the people despite the strike
For its part, the Mozambican Medical Association says that its fight is not against the peaceful citizen, the main victim of the strike. In other words, the doctors say, the strike of activities aims to put pressure on the Government to immediately respond to the concerns expressed in the demands.
In order to express concern on people’s matter, the doctors organized a health fair in Maputo on Tuesday, which was, however, interrupted by the police officers. The attitude of the police further instigated the indignation of the doctors, since it was a fair that had the endorsement of the municipal authorities.
According to the association, the health fair was intended to show that doctors sympathize with the suffering of users and patients, and are only demanding better working conditions, more resources for the diagnosis and treatment of patients themselves, as well as their rights as a class.
At the fair organized by AMM, services such as diabetes and hypertension screening, prostate as well as oral disease screening, HIV, hepatitis and syphilis testing, nutrition education and blood donation services were available.
Renamo accuses government of being arrogant in handling strike
The President of Renamo, the main opposition party in Mozambique, Ossufo Momade, spoke this Tuesday about the strike, saying that it results from the arrogance and inability of the government to dialogue with doctors to end this situation.
According to Momade, the government has been totally confused and ignorant to the suffering of citizens who daily seek hospital care.
“It is serious and worrying that, instead of solving the problems of doctors and the entire class of professionals in the Public Administration, the Government is promoting threats and intimidation against those doctors who, in times of Covid-19 and other illnesses, have put their own lives at risk to save the lives of citizens”, he stressed.
Renamo, through its President, expressed its discontent with the fact that the Government is threatening to revoke the Doctor’s Statute, as well as the expulsion of Doctors from the Civil Service.
“It is a serious mistake in government strategy to think that threats will solve the serious problems of the National Health System, from the lack of medicines, the lack of minimum working conditions, as well as insufficient salaries”, said Momade, adding that the doctor must have an unshakable physical and mental disposition to fulfil his noble mission of saving lives.
“It is deplorable to be convinced that national problems can only be solved by foreigners. We are mortgaging our sovereignty and this shows the end of the ruling party”, he emphasized.