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Friday, May 20, 2022

Zambia Medical Association alarmed by rhetoric that trained doctors to volunteer their hard-earned skills in government facilities

General News Zambia Medical Association alarmed by rhetoric that trained doctors to volunteer their...

The Zambia Medical Association has said that it is alarmed with the rhetoric from Ministry of Health officials that appears to ask trained doctors to volunteer their hard-earned skills in government facilities, without salaries and with no clear roadmap to fair and reasonable employment.

The Association said it is further dismayed to hear the government’s proposal to engage the punitive approach of prioritizing for employment, those who agree to volunteer in government facilities, even over those who have been waiting for much longer.

Dr. Kaumba Tolopu, the Association Secretary-General says the move functionally strong-arms doctors into offering their services for free, and potentially paving the way for a system in which the government is not obliged to pay doctors for their work.

He said in a statement that Zambia currently has close to 700 medical doctors and dental surgeons who have been awaiting employment for almost two years now who have already spent 7 plus years in medical school and who in past years have been immediately absorbed into the civil service at managerial level.

Dr. Tolopu said the Association finds the expectation that these professionals should now be expected to work and risk their lives without the reasonable protection and privileges granted to members of the civil services to be unreasonable.

He said the Association does not accept the notion of subjecting its members to free labor especially now when the world is facing the biggest health crisis of this generation in addition to continuing heavy burden of infectious diseases such as malaria, TB and HIV.

Below is the full statement

ZAMBIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION OPPOSES VOLUNTARY INTERNSHIP FOR DOCTORS

The Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) is a nonprofit-making professional body whose main goal is to champion the practice of medicine for the benefit of society through ethical practice, advocacy and research. ZMA is the official representative of medical doctors and dental surgeons in the country, and is committed to ensuring optimal conditions of service for its Membership as they diligently serve the Zambian people.

ZMA notes with alarm, the rhetoric from Ministry of Health officials that appears to ask trained doctors to volunteer their hard-earned skills in Government facilities, without salaries and with no clear roadmap to fair and reasonable employment. ZMA is further dismayed to hear Government’s proposal to engage the punitive approach of prioritizing for employment, those who agree to volunteer in Government facilities, even over doctors who have been waiting for much longer. This move functionally strong-arms doctors into offering their services for free, and potentially paves the way for a system in which Government is not obliged to pay doctors for their work.

Zambia currently has close to 700 medical doctors and dental surgeons who have been awaiting employment for almost two years. These are fully qualified professionals, who have already spent 7+ years in medical school, and who in past years have been immediately absorbed into the Government as civil servants at managerial level. ZMA finds the expectation that these cadres should now be expected to work and risk their lives without the reasonable protections and privileges granted to members of the civil service to be egregious and unreasonable.

As ZMA, we do not accept the notion that Government cannot appropriately staff its own health service. The world is facing the biggest health crisis of this generation. Zambia is no exception, and in addition, faces the continuing heavy burdens of infectious diseases such as malaria, TB and HIV; an ongoing maternal health crisis, and gross understaffing at almost every health facility in the country.

According to the World Health Organization, the desirable doctor-patient ratio is 1 doctor for every 1000 patients. Zambia currently reports a ratio of 1 doctor for every 12,000 patients, well below the WHO recommendation for a country working towards the attainment of universal health coverage and access to quality health care for all by 2030; a goal in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) agenda and with Zambia’s own national strategic health plans.

Doctors are a precious resource, and the Government must immediately recognize them as such. ZMA calls upon the Ministry of Health and his Excellency President Hakainde Hichilema to absorb all doctors into the civil service with immediate effect, and with remuneration at the appropriate level. The current health crisis must not be used as an opportunity to exploit those working at the front lines.

Doctors, like all hardworking Zambians, have obligations, needs and family responsibilities. We are not exempt from the high cost of living. Nonetheless, doctors have made huge sacrifices in order to serve the nation, and continue to do so in the line of duty. Many doctors have indeed already been volunteering through the various COVID waves, at great personal cost, and with no promise of compensation for that contribution, save for the nation’s gratitude, which they cannot use to feed themselves or fill fuel their tanks. The labour of medical doctors is not free, and cannot be treated as such.

ZMA prides itself on a track record of well-meaning and inclusive consultations to promote equity and welfare of its members and society at large. ZMA will continue to hold consultative deliberations that promote fairness, and urges all stakeholders to take advantage of ZMA’s open door policy to advance deliberations. As we continue to engage government, ZMA urges our members to desist from bowing to exploitation attempts.

ZMA simultaneously appeals to the leadership of this great country to expedite the process of promotions and recruitment of healthcare professionals, to address the huge human resource deficit in healthcare delivery, motivate this critically-needed cadre, and put the nation on the fast track to development.

Yours Sincerely,
Dr. Kaumba Roy Tolopu
SECRETARY GENERAL
ZAMBIA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

20 COMMENTS

  1. Well, those that voted for this government are to blame. Now everything is unclear. May be this another IMF condition.

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  2. The MMD government did a similar thing. Many Doctors fled the country or joined the private sector. Those who remaind were frustrated, despondent and unmotivated. Who suffered the conquence?

  3. Nanga imwe tuma Doctor association of Ridgeway, u talking as if u paid cash for your course? Remember your qualification was donated by GRZ with goodwill, now u are being asked to equally offer yo goodwill to assist our understaffed hospitals but u want to be selfish. That one who ll refuse GRZ must deregister him/her.

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  4. Moreover, if you haven’t been working for two years, it means u haven’t paid back GRZ a single cent of your bursary that GRZ paid for u to study your hard earned course. Don’t you think that’s money GRZ wud used to pay orphans/widows but instd they sponsored u, but in the end, u are refusing to offer free services to an orphan, whose money u chopped? Selfish vipuba chabe, ati Doctor, for what? For stones, trees or for people?

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  5. @Mpofu : u sound to be commenting from Vubwi, well, 98% of countries, don’t employ foreign trained Doctors,Nurses & Lawyers. So those left during the Chiluba era , ended sweeping the floors of clinics overseas while folding there hard earned UNZA Degrees in their pockets. So, those who want to leave , can leave, but we all know the story – and they can’t jst leave remember! Cos they still owe GRZ for bursaries.

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  6. The ministry of health should lead by example by working for free and let’s see if they can sustain themselves. This type of backwards thinking is sliding us back into the dark ages. Let the doctors open up private practices where they can charge for their services but the same doctors should also be available to work their shifts in government facilities. Why did you introduce a national health insurance scheme if you’re failing to fund the health sector? where does this money go?

  7. This whole statement does not make sense “rhetoric from ministry of health officials” rhetoric to what? and who are these anonymous government officials? If you want people to be accountable, identify th people or the specific office that is the source of your concern and the specific issue that is being put forward. Otherwise, it does not even fall into nkani ya mu kachasu.

  8. Nothing new here Doctor (Sir). Its a test of the heart for those with the calling. In the US, government gives preference for employment into the civil service to those who served in the Peace Corps.

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  9. One non related question to you Doctor (Sir) as well as Hon Masebo. Why does the COVID 19 PCR test still unjustifiably cost K1000 in Zambia?. This is a crude rip off of the travelling public. You have youths that depend for their survival on cross border trade. They can no longer earn a living through their trade due to this prohibitive cost. In other countries governments had to intervene to protect people from such heartless profiteering. PCR is now R500 in SA and the equivalent in many other countries in the region.

  10. ” When stupidity is considered patriotism , it is unsafe to be intelligent.” Isaac Asimov. People stop reasoning when they are in support of their maters or political parties and will go to all lengths in support of all sort of rubbish.

  11. Kikikikikikijukija Hehehehehehe nkunkunkunkyu hahahahahaha kwekwekwekwe kwikwikwikwikwi!
    Didn’t the just past budget pronouncement just call for the employment of 11,000 medical workers? Don’t worry your pretty heads, your government intends to employ you in phases with a delay of only 3 months whether IMF likes it or not. Fingers crossed Ladies and gentlemen.
    No free services, Vamahara vinata!
    You vote shall never go to waste, baal is fixing you and it. Don’t mind the Ministry, it high on weed. Only baal knows.

  12. What wud you prefer? Two years without employment or 2years volunteering. Remember all these two years your cv stays blank, whereas if u volunteered yo cv stays active & u remain employeable. If u are a Qualified Doctor who hasn’t practiced for two years – u are jst as good as a mere nurse, u don’t qualify to be given a Dr position.

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  13. @ Ba Step Aside- Silently ikalenifye tata how much are the politicians who lie day and night getting? You’re in South Africa smiling while you want our Doctors to work for a song and all the credit goes to a liar HH? Is this the kind of employment they promised the health workers? Some of these Doctors have families to look after how are they going to feed their families? Some of the things we support nangu ni bu cadre awe bane.

  14. Lusaka times is still truly a PF
    Cadre site we won’t leave it alone. For as long as it operates within Zambia will yoke it to operate according to Zambian laws or close it like Lungu did to the post. Ma PF cadres achilamo apa, infact we need to investigate the owners of this site. They should be involved in theft of GRZ property or tenders, let alone if they have been paying Tax.

  15. Iam sure 1.8 is laughing…. honestly how do you take people to sacrifice if leaders are not ready to lead by example! that’s bull shi.t

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