By Chikumbi Katebe
GOVERNMENT has paid tribute to medical doctors in the country for not resorting to a strike action but choosing dialogue and has pledged that the Ministry of Health is going to address their grievances over the conditions of service, Health Minister Chitalu Chilufya has said.
And Dr. Chilufya has assured doctors that the 2017 national budget was already set to offset arrears in settling-in allowances for which the doctors had threatened to strike.
He said Government was delighted over the doctors’ decision to dialogue as opposed to work stoppage which would be detrimental to the sector.
Dr. Chilufya said Government was ready to dialogue with any organisation or association willing to sit down in search of solutions that would see the health sector provide the best services.
“We would like to congratulate the Resident Doctors Association (RDA) for taking the approach of dialogue with Government over their concerns with regards to the conditions of service. Government maintains an open-door policy to engage all organisations and associations and we will start dismantling the arears for settling-in allowance beginning with the newly graduated doctors,” Dr. Chilufya said.
He was speaking at the second Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) 2016 Annual Ball at Intercontinental Hotel on Saturday.
ZMA president Aaron Mujajati called on the Government to urgently address the needs and concerns raised by the resident doctors to improve their conditions of service.
He said doctors were delighted and encouraged to participate in the economic development of the nation through quality health service provision, but that Government should ensure there was harmony between the doctors and the State.
He explained that due to economic constraints, the medical sector had its share of challenges in drugs procurements due to import costs.
He said this has resulted in shortages of drugs and absence of adequate medical equipment to ensure quality health service but was quick to laud Government’s efforts in the huge infrastructure development including capacity building in human capital as a good start.
And Dr. Chilufya has assured of Government’s commitment to enhanced health personnel training and recruitment to help build human resource in the management needs at all new health facilities.
He assured the medical practitioners that the current medical reforms were aimed at their work environment and improving access to healthcare services across the country.
He said Government for the first time was looking forward to employing 7400 health workers in its efforts to transform the health sector with an increased budgetary allocation of K769 million towards drugs procurement.
He said Government was working at procurement of surgical equipment to be installed at all major district hospitals as well as introduce Information Communication Technology (ICT) management systems for data collections and record keeping at all hospitals.