9 January 2013

Mozambique: Ministry Claims More Doctors Abandoning Strike

Maputo — The Mozambican Health Ministry on Wednesday claimed that an ever increasing number of doctors are abandoning the strike declared by the Mozambican Medical Association (AMM), and are returning to work.

Interviewed by Radio Mozambique, the Ministry spokesperson, and Deputy National Director of Human Resources, Martinho Djedje, said that the health services are working “with some degree of normality”, despite the absence of some of the doctors.

He denied the claim made by the AMM leadership that 90 per cent of the Mozambican doctors in the national health service have joined the strike.

He put the true number of strikers at 20 per cent (since there are 1,274 doctors in the health services, this would mean that 255 of them are on strike).

The worst hit area, Djedje said, is Maputo city, where the trainee doctors, who normally work in Maputo Central Hospital, as part of their training, have joined the strike. Djedje urged them to resume their normal activities.

In one of the capital’s largest health units, the Jose Macamo General Hospital, the director, Leia Monteiro, said the absence of some of the doctors has not affected patient care – but only because those who are not on strike have taken on the work of those who are.

She admitted that the doctors are being overworked, “because we have to stand in for those who aren’t here”.

Djedje said the government remains open to dialogue, which was why representatives of the AMM and of the Ministry (including the Minister himself, Alexandre Manguele) met on Tuesday.

The meeting was held at the AMM’s request, and according to AMM chairperson, Jorge Arroz, cited in Wednesday’s issue of the independent newsheet “Mediafax”, the exchange of views was “peaceful, cordial, friendly and frank”.

Arroz said the AMM will now study the way forward. He did not promise an imminent end to the strike. “Although the meeting we held was cordial, it has not resulted so far in the end of the strike”, he said. “We shall look at the possible openings and the various options for a way out”.

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