Over Doctors Strike… 200 Foreign Doctors To Jet In

 

Barely a week after they decided to down tools to draw attention to their plight, bad blood continues to run between the country’s striking junior doctors and the New Direction Government of President Julius Maada Bio.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Leone Medical and Dental Association (SLMDA) has joined the junior doctors according to a press statement dated Friday 7th December, 2018, deploring government’s refusal to reach common ground with the health sector workers.

In the statement, the SLMDA lamented that it is unfortunate for the government to think that doctors are inconsiderate and unpatriotic, given their commitment and patriotic service to the nation under what they call poor working conditions, adding that they are the most undervalued professionals in the country and finding themselves in a situation that they do not want.

The SLMDA further maintained: “We want the best for our patients and for the greater good of health care delivery in the country. We will continue to call on government to address the issues in the shortest possible time.”

Imploring the sympathy of the nation to their cause, the doctors asked the nation to recall their loyalty to the people throughout the years, especially during the 2014-2016 Ebola outbreak when hundreds of healthcare workers including 24 doctors lost their lives in active service.

The SLMDA, according to its press statement, is also dismayed that instead of the government trying to reach a common ground with them with regards the issues they have raised, including their terms and conditions of service and improvement of the country’s healthcare delivery system, the government has threatened to import 200 foreign doctors to replace them.

Giving the background to their stance, the SLMDA release narrates that for the past two years they have been engaged with the Ministry of Health and Sanitation on recommendations for remodeling the national healthcare delivery that culminated in an ultimatum if nothing was done.

The release furthered that within the 21 days strike notice period, all attempts to get concrete commitment to address the issues raised failed, adding that it resulted in the downing of tools by junior doctors on 4th December, 2018 followed by series of meetings between the healthcare service workers and the Ministries of Finance and Labor on 4th and 6th December, 2018.

To the dismay of the health sector workers’ representatives, according to SLMDA, instead of amicable negotiations taking place to reach common ground on resolving the issues, the government bared its teeth and claws and resorted to bullying, intimidation and threat to bring in 200 foreign doctors to replace the locals.
So intimidating was the government, according to SLMDA, that some health sector representatives caved in under the pressure and signed what it calls a “pre-conceived press release” that is circulating on social media.

SLMDA’s release nonetheless states that the government must communicate its unwillingness to negotiate to the general body of doctors, which the body awaits.