RDAZ president Dr Brian Sampa has been summoned to appear at the Zambia Police Headquarters in Lusaka today.
Dr.Sampa’s unpopularity with the government and police started in May when the Resident Doctors Association Association resolved to go on a “go -slow” after a virtual meeting held on the 19th May,2021. The doctors wanted to press government to pay the K150 million owed in arrears arising from unpaid gratuities and settling in allowances accrued from 2015.
The doctors also wanted government to clearly state when it shall commence the recruitment of doctors as 530 qualified doctors still remain unemployed.
“We need to recruit new doctors. The current Doctor-Patient ratio stands at 1 to 12,000 and this is unacceptable. The 530 unemployment doctors can all be absorbed by the system and we can’t still have a shortfall of 3,000 more doctors. Government just needs to do the correct thing and employ these doctors who were trained a high cost.”
Dr Sampa who was just recently elected as RDAZ President a few weeks prior said the doctors had resolved to press on with their demands because government has shown lack of willingness to address the issues.
“From 2015, these issues have been with government, the team which was there before me even produced a Position Paper which was even tabled in Cabinet but up to now, nothing is happening. We have escalated the matter to the highest office in the land and we cannot continue like this,” Dr Sampa said.
Dr.Sampa said doctors are not motivated because they are not getting what they are working for.
If a government reaction was what the doctors were hoping to elicit they got more than they bargained for by the heavy handed response from the Government and the Inspector General of Police.
The Inspector General of Police Kakoma Kanganja threatened doctors who attended the Zoom meeting with Dr.Sampa arrest for attending the “illegal meeting”. Civil Society and doctors were alarmed by these threats and asked IG Kanganja to quote the laws he based his threats on, as the HPCZ license is needed for one to touch a patient and anything done outside patient duties including teaching, talking to other doctors is not tied to the license.
The Secretary General of RDAZ Dr Chikonde, was then arrested by police at Arthur Davison Children’s Hospital on 30th May and charged with Espionage and transported to Lusaka.After the intervention from senior doctors, RDAZ,ZMA and Chapter One foundation Dr.Chikonde was released and all charges dropped 24 hours later.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Permanent Secretary Amos Malupenga weighed in on the Go slow during an interview on HOT FM by saying putting government under duress is a wrong route and we will not give them(doctors) any desired result. Ministry of Labour and Social Security Permanent Secretary Chanda Kaziya said the current go-slow by resident doctors was against the law.
“There is no provision in the law that grants an essential worker to withhold labour even if they are unhappy with their working conditions,” he said.He explained that the doctors should have used the court or the Ministry of Labour as a mediator in airing out their grievances instead of risking lives of many people seeking medical services.
On the 30th May Boniface Chimbwali, Permanent Secretary Public Service Management Division, said that RDAZ’s demands for Salary arrears for the 309 Doctors, dismantling of arrears and gratuities for medical Doctors, creation of positions for Senior Resident Medical Officers, Registrars and Consultants and Recruitment of 500 newly graduated medical doctors, had been addressed which included the Ministry including the creation of promotional positions in the Treasury Authority No. 5 and 6 of 2021 and in the 2022 Budget submission to be tabled before Parliament in September, 2021.