By NATION REPORTER
UNLESS expressly mitigated, a countrywide strike by medical doctors, which has been looming for days is likely to start today, after government decided to be adamant by refusing to include doctors on the 10.5 percent salary increase awarded to civil servants across the board.
Hospitals and other medical facilities across the country shall be paralysed, without medical doctors who have resolved to withdraw their labour after government accused them of arm-twisting the state by demanding their inclusion on the 10.5 percent salary increase.
Doctors down tools
Yesterday, the medical doctors across the country unanimously decided to go ahead with their protest today over the 10.5 percent salary increment which was awarded to all civil servants except the medical doctors because government claims their category was in a class of middle management.
Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) general secretary Dr Kaumba Tolopu has disclosed that doctors met on Monday evening and a decision was made that they should go ahead with their protest since government had remained mute over their concerns despite engaging them on various occasions.
Dr Tolopu said the doctors had no option but to go ahead with the planned protest today since government had decided to ignore their plea and that all civil avenues had failed to yield the desired results.
“The doctors met and they have actually been told that the protest is still on since government has decided to be adamant about this serious matter. Government has decided to remain adamant and is acusing the doctors of arm-twisting the State. We have therefore decided to withdraw our labour since civil discussions have collapsed,” Dr Tolopu said.
The doctors have demanded that government gives them the 10.5 percent increment which was given to civil servants as they were omitted since they are deemed to be in management.
But former defence minister Dr George Mpombo said that there was a revolt at the Ministry of Health and that it was not normal for one of the most important ministries to be facing such perennial and calamitous problems without any step being taken to correct the situation.
Dr Mpombo said Ministry of Health had been a seething cauldron of frustration and disenchantment among doctors for the most part of the UPND administration which had started with a continuous critical shortage of medicines and other medical supplies.
Dr Mpombo said the preamble to the problems in the Ministry of Health was cutting of the supply chain of medicines and other medical supplies by the Sylvia Masebo, the Minister of Health without having a back-up plan.
He stated that the cut in the supply chain had resulted into an immediate shortage of drugs in hospitals across the country, stating that the medical staff had become the most demotivated of the civil servants under Ms Masebo in many decades.
Dr Mpombo called on government not to be arrogant and ensure that they dealt with the matter before it exploded in their faces because the results would be disastrous.