THE government has said doctors attending to Dr Stephen Ulimboka, who left on Saturday for further treatment abroad, have snubbed the government's offer to assist.
Speaking to the 'Sunday News' on Saturday, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare Spokesperson, Mr Nsachris Mwamaja, said that both the government and the ministry were committed to meeting all the expenses required for the patient to travel to India, but the doctors rebuffed the offer.
He said after learning of the deteriorating condition of the doctor, and following advice from some specialists that he needed further treatment, the government volunteered to foot his bill, but the doctors flatly rejected the offer.
They had also turned down any attempt by government officials to visit the patient or even enter Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) since Dr Ulimboka was admitted, he said. Sources said the patient remained in serious condition in the ICU as final arrangements to take him to India were being made.
On Wednesday night, a gang abducted Dr Ulimboka at the Leader's Club, tortured and beat him severely before dumping him at Mabwepande area on the outskirts of Dar es Salaam. Meanwhile, the 'Sunday News' witnessed a tense situation at the MNH as doctors and family members prepared to transport Dr Ulimboka to the airport.
"No one is permitted to go inside, MOI doctors don't want to see any outsider," said a patient who was waiting outside MOI, where Dr Ulimboka was receiving treatment, just before he was dashed out. Sources at the hospital said about 40,000 US dollars was required to enable Dr Ulimboka fly to India for further treatment. They called upon well- wishers and other donors to contribute.
With the ongoing strike by doctors still biting at the national hospitals, doctors had formed a six-man team headed by Prof Joseph Kahamba to treat and protect Dr Ulimboka. As preparations to fly out Dr Ulimboka continued on Saturday, MNH guards continued to man the closed gates, allowing access to only a handful of visitors, with reporters and photographers milling around waiting for more details.
Patients who had gathered outside the hospital waiting for treatment condemned the strike, and urged the two parties involving doctors and the government to resolve their differences amicably for the sake of suffering patients.
On Friday, Mwamaja said that several private hospitals have agreed to cooperate with the government in rescuing the lives of Tanzanians, which include TMJ, Regency, Aga Khan, Hindu Mandal, CCBRT and Lugalo.This follows Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda's directive, which indicated that Lugalo Hospital, which is a military unit, would serve as a referral hospital.
"The government will direct most of its energy towards Mwananyamala, Amana and Temeke hospitals which are not on strike, to make sure that they are not overloaded," he said. A brief survey by our team confirmed that normal services were offered at Amana, Temeke and Mwananyamala hospitals.
Meanwhile, Peter Temba in Moshi reports that all 80 intern doctors at Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre (KCMC), who are still on strike since last Monday, were on Saturday given marching orders and directed to report to their employer, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare.
A notice posted at several notice boards of the referral hospital directed the intern doctors to vacate from the Good Samaritan Foundation (GSF) and KCMC hostels before 2.00pm on Saturday and that before leaving the place they should surrender all items and properties of GSF / KCMC that were given to them immediately after they reported at the hospital for the assignment given to them by their employer.
GSF and KCMC management has restrained the interns from gathering and holding any meeting within the compound of KCMC.Earlier, when this reporter wanted to see KCMC Executive Director, Dr Moshi Ntabaye to seek information on the position and impact of the strike, he refused to cooperate.
Meanwhile, relatives of some patients admitted to KCMC are complaining that their loved ones were languishing in the wards where medical services have generally been abandoned by striking doctors.
Remmy Mbise told this reporter at KCMC premises that her sister, Lightness Massawe, was suffering from peuperial psychosis and admitted to the maternity ward and operated on last Thursday to save her life and that of her 8-month infant. He says for the last three days she has not been attended to by the surgeon who performed the operation.
Two sisters, Edita Morice and Janet Morice were victims of a motor accident that occurred on Saturday last week. The first-born daughter of Janet, Angel Andrea (20) told the 'Sunday News' that her mother has, for the last three days, been denied medical attention due to on-going doctors' strike.
However, Asha Issa from Singida said doctors were attending to children at the Paediatric unit where her 23-days grand daughter, suffering from spinal injury, was given medical attention after undergoing surgery, and its condition has been described as stable so far.
Dr Ulimboka is the chairman of a committee spearheading the doctors' cause that operates under the auspices of the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT). The doctors also pressed the government to suspend top officials at the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, and it did so by suspending Ms Blandina Nyoni and the chief medical officer, Dr Deo Mutasiwa.
Both are being investigated over corruption allegations levelled against them. President Jakaya Kikwete also sacked the Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Dr Hadji Mponda, in a cabinet reshuffle he made last May.Last January an interim committee formed by medical personnel called for a nationwide strike over poor working conditions as well as lack of working tools and training of medical personnel.