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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Court orders doctors back to work


 
 
Patients share a bed and another looks on as they await their fate following lack of medical services yesterday at the Mbeya regional hospital, where doctors remain on strike. (Photo: Emmanuel Lengwa)
The High Court Labour Division yesterday ordered the Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) to immediately call off the doctors’ strike, pending hearing of the main case on July 24, this year.
In a brief statement issued yesterday, High Court Judge, Sekela Moshi, said: “I have heard both parties (government and MAT) orally. From the submissions, it is evident that the respondent’s president (MAT) was served late yesterday (Monday) with the ex-parte interim injunction order.”
The respondents, according to the Judge, “are hereby warned that they should comply with the court orders.”
The court ordered MAT to comply with issued orders, tasking the association’s president to address the compliance through the media. “It is so ordered,” stated part of the High Court order.
Meanwhile, health services at both Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) and Muhimbili Orthopedic Institute (MOI) remained paralysed yesterday as doctors vowed to maintain the strike until the government worked on their demands.
A survey by The Guardian established a large number of patients were moving up and down without knowing their fate while some of them were seen either being rushed home or seeking medical services in other hospitals.
Efforts to go into the wards failed yesterday, as security guards denied our reporters entry to the medical premises.
Yet some other patients were struggling to call our reporters to inform them about the situation inside the hospital’s wards.
MOI’s Communication Officer, Jumaa Almasi confirming the deteriorating services, said the situation has forced the institute to suspend some of the services due to shortage of doctors.
“Things are not so good on our side because we have decided to come into agreement with the management to stop some of the services until further notice,” Almasi said.
He mentioned some of the services that have been suspended as theatre and private units (those who pay for medical services).
Almasi said the influx of patients seeking for services has been reduced, with some being forced to return home or seek medical services in other private facilities.
“Heads of departments are the only people attending to patients since yesterday as we have no doctors to assists them,” he said.
According to Almasi, the services currently being provided are those that have to do with the emergency unit, general clinic and laboratory.
Interviewed patients stressed how badly the strike has affected and left them puzzled without knowing what to do with patients who cannot afford to seek medical services in private hospitals.
Robert Mrobe, a Yombo resident in Dar es Salaam complained of being sent back home three times without being attended to his broken leg. He said he does not know what is going to be his fate with the strike.
“I was supposed to see my doctors today but things have turned upside down, I was informed that it would be difficult to be attended,” he complained bitterly.
“I was escorted by relative for the medical check up but we found things not going well and the appointment with the doctor has been cancelled…we are told to come back once the strike is over or go to a private hospital, ” cried Johari Mkonde.
She called upon the government to hold talks with the doctors to draw up better working terms for the latter.
Efforts to get comments from MNH authorities proved futile as its offices remained locked.
Legal and Human Right Centre (LHRC) yesterday called upon President Jakaya Kikwete to intervene and take action to save lives of innocent Tanzanians admitted in public hospitals before it is too late.
In an official statement, LHRC executive director Dr Hellen Kijo-Bisimba, blamed the President for his failure to fulfill his February promise to the doctors.
“The government has also failed to inform the public on the mechanism reached by the committee appointed by the President to work on the disputes between the government and the doctors.

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