8 January 2013

Mozambique: Striking Doctors Clean Up Beach

Maputo — Over 100 members of the Mozambican Medical Association (AMM) on Tuesday morning voluntarily cleaned up the Miramar beach in Maputo.

The doctors tidying up the beach were on the second day of a national strike called by the AMM in pursuit of wage demands. They collected plastic bottles, pieces of glass, and other items of rubbish scattered over the beach, doubtless the result of New Year’s revels a few days earlier. After a couple of hours of work, the beach had a different, more pleasant look.

AMM spokesperson Paulo Samo Gudo said that the AMM regards keeping the beaches clean as an important aspect of community health. Curative medicine is not, and should not be, the main focus of public health policy, he told reporters.

“With preventive medicine, we argue that if people do not fall ill in the first place, then there would be less need for them to go to health units”, said Samo Gudo.

Asked about the appeal made on Monday, by the clinical director of Maputo Central Hospital, Domingos Diogo, for striking doctors to return to work, Samo Gudo simply replied that the doctors are on strike, in pursuit of goals that they regard as “just and legitimate”.

Samo Gudo claimed that “more than 90 per cent” of the Mozambican doctors in the national health service had joined the strike, which is intended to pressure the government into giving the doctors a substantial wage rise. On Monday, AMM chairperson Jorge Arroz had put support for the strike at 80 per cent – but the Health Ministry claims that only a minority of doctors have joined the strike.

The strike has been declared for an indefinite period, and there is no sign of renewed negotiations between the Ministry and the AMM.

Strikers are being marked as absent without justification at their health units and are liable to have their wages docked for every day they are on strike.

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