The Association of United and Supportive Health Professionals of Mozambique (APSUSM) has suspended, once again, the strike that had been scheduled to start on 19 June, after reaching a consensus in the negotiations that were taking place with the Mozambican Government, through the Ministry of Health (MISAU).
This second strike was to take place at a national level and was to be extended for a further 20 days, which in turn could be extended until the concerns of the class were satisfied. The strike is suspended for sixty days, counting from Monday of the current week.
According to the administrative technician and spokesperson of APSUSM, Rosana Zunguze, in a first phase, the Government asked the group to suspend the strike so that the impasses could be analyzed.
However, none of the members of the medical class accepted the proposal, and the paralysis of activities continued. The strike only slowed down when the Government, through a letter signed by both parties, committed itself to answer the concerns regarding salaries, the availability of working instruments, including uniforms for all professional classes, with more urgency for the radiology area.
For the APSUSM, in a first phase, the consensuses reached represent a great gain.
“Bearing in mind that the representatives who went to the negotiations carried with them the request for more time to analyses the demands, for us it is a gain that we have reached these consensuses, because on the same day the government felt pressured with the idea that the association already had to go ahead with the strike,” he said.
“If they are serious and comply with what was promised, it’s already very good, because we want a lot of things to improve”, he added.
Zunguze revealed that the Government had requested 60 days, equivalent to more or less two months to comply with what it had promised the Association of Health Professionals.
However, the association threatens to resume the strike, with no more room for negotiations, if there is no seriousness in fulfilling the points discussed.
“If the Government Does Not Comply, We Will Paralyze All Services”
“According to the agreement, if the Ministry of Health does not deliver on what they promised for the good of all, we will halt all services nationwide and we will not accept that there will be any more negotiation. The only way to negotiate will be for them to fulfil what they promised, and only then can we sit down to say something. It will be very sad, but we have no other way because we have already showed it in several times”, he noted.
“The first time, we sat down to negotiate and were given 15 days and nothing happened. Now, they wanted to use the same strategy but we didn’t accept it”, the source stressed.
In general, health professionals are demanding better working conditions, salary increases and work equipment, including supplies for patients. On this last aspect, he said there is a lack, in hospitals, of medicines for chronically ill patients who are hospitalized, particularly tuberculosis patients.
“There are hospitals that do not have paracetamol. We are talking about health, we must have have medication, we must have gloves, vaccines and other material. What we want is to put pressure on the rightful owner to provide us with quality material for our work”, she stressed.
For APSUSM, the fight to improve working conditions is not only for the benefit of professionals, patients also benefit whenever they go to the health unit.
In this way, the Citizen Observatory for Health (OCS) congratulates the advances achieved, as it understands that the negotiations that culminated with the agreement between the Government, through the MISAU, and the Association of Health Professionals mean an important step for this class, as well as for the users of health services.
No More Exclusive Privilege to Doctor’s Class
Regarding the consensus reached on the salary component, the OCS understands that this group managed to achieve a feat that was previously only possible with the Doctors Association. In this context, the consensus may mean a historical step towards the end of exclusive privilege of the doctors’ class in Mozambique, which has always been considered special in the health area, having a statute approved by the Mozambican Parliament.
On the other hand, this agreement proves, once again, that the Government only gave in to the agreement thanks to pressure from the Association of Health Professionals in paralyzing the activities, which were already compromising the National Health System (SNS), with negative effects for the Mozambican population.
This agreement comes at a time when hospitals are suffering from a lack of medical and surgical material, human resources, hospital equipment and adequate infrastructures, as well as a lack of water in the Health Units (US) and electricity. The debts, for some time, even result in power and water cuts in many hospital centers.
However, in addition to these aspects verified at the level of the US, health professionals want wage conditions to be improved in the short term, as they understand “that such crucial aspects cannot be put off any longer, as there is a need for health professionals to exercise their profession with zeal, within the principles of medical ethics and deontology.”
We congratulate, this time, the commitment assumed by the Government based on the principle of dialogue. However, we believe that if this dialogue does not bring results in the short term, we run the risk of seeing scenarios that are not favorable to the health sector, the users, the professionals, as well as the Government itself.
Therefore, we hope that with the result of this agreement the users will be the main beneficiaries, in an environment of normal functioning of the National Health System, respecting the quality and humanization of the services.