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STRIKING RESIDENT DOCTORS CAUTIONED, GO-SLOW IS ILLEGAL

By SIMON MUNTEMBA                                     

The go-slow by the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia is illegal and members taking part will face disciplinary action as individuals, government has warned.

And government has assured the public that all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that there will be no disruption to health services in the country despite medical doctors having gone on strike.

And Public Service Management Division Permanent Secretary, Boniface Chimbwali hoped that the unjustified ‘go slow’ was not politically motivated.

In a statement, Mr Chimbwali  expressed dismay with the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia’s (RDAZ) continued attempts to disrupt delivery of health services through a ‘go-slow’.

He said the go slow by RDAZ president was not only illegal but a violation of the professional code of ethics under the Health Professions Act and the service commission disciplinary code and procedures for handling offences in the public service.

In this regard, he warned, individual medical doctors who will be found to be in breach of these provisions shall individually be liable to disciplinary action including dismissal from the Civil service.

“Government hopes that this go-slow is not politically motivated,” Mr Chimbwali warned.

He however assured members of the public that government has put in place necessary measures to ensure that there would be no disruption to health service delivery in Zambia.

“Government would like to assure the public that all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that there will be no disruption to health services in the country,” he said.

He disclosed that in the last meeting held last week on May 21, it was agreed that a follow up meeting would be held on June 5 to provide further progress on the matters particularly on dismantling arrears, but surprisingly, the president of RDAZ proceeded to issue a unilateral directive through a memo dated 28th May, 2021 that a ‘go slow’ would commence with effect on the same day at 20:00 hours.

“This is despite a roadmap having been drawn at the meeting held on 21st May 2021 and RDAZ not having reverted to the Ministry of Health following this meeting,” he said.

 He said the uncalled for action by the RDAZ president puts the lives of Zambians at risk, worse still at the time when the country is fighting COVID-19 and ensuring continuity of essential health services.

Meanwhile, Mr Chimbwali has commended the medical doctors who have continued to defy the call by the RDAZ president for doctors to withdraw labor even when Government has addressed some of the issues raised and is on course to addressing the remaining ones.

He further applauded the Zambia Medical Association for the continuous meaningful engagement they continue to have which have led the progress made so far.

Mr Chimbwali reiterated government’s unwavering commitment to ensure that the concerns of healthcare workers and doctors were effectively attended to and that has been demonstrated by the continued engagements with various stakeholders including unions.

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