The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament, Brian Mundubile, has called on the Zambian government to urgently engage in negotiations with medical doctors before they down tools. This plea comes in the wake of threats by medical doctors to embark on a strike if the government does not implement the 10 percent salary upward adjustment awarded to all civil servants earlier this year.
“Medical doctors play a vital role in our society, especially now that the country is experiencing a cholera outbreak, Covid-19 and a possible outbreak of new diseases owing to cyclone Freddy whose effects are likely to hit Zambia,” said Mr. Mundubile in an interview with Phoenix News. “I urge the government to recognize the importance of medical doctors and step up efforts to resolve the standoff.”
Medical doctors have revealed that the majority of them did not receive the salary increment, with only a few receiving up to 6.5 percent, while others received a 5 percent increment. This is in stark contrast to the 10.5 percent increment awarded to all civil servants in the country.
Dr. Chitalu Chilufya, Patriotic Front PF Presidential Candidate and Mansa Central Member of Parliament, has also emphasized the need for dialogue between government and health workers. “We need to assure people of health services everywhere and by ensuring we have motivated human capital to provide health services,” he said during a radio interview on 5FM’s burning issue. “We must recognize that human resource is probably the biggest resource we have and having a strong relationship with our human capital is key.”
Dr. Chilufya cautioned against a looming strike by Resident Medical Doctors of Zambia who have been left out of the 10.5% salary increment awarded to all civil servants. He warned that a strike in the ministry of health would promote deaths, and that there was a need to assure people of health services everywhere by ensuring the country has motivated human capital to provide health services. “When you have a strike in the health sector you will be promoting deaths, we will be unable to account for the lives lost when people down tools,” he said. “I am calling for restraint and dialogue among all the key stakeholders to ensure that the patient remains first. Remember that we are promoting the agenda for universal health coverage, it is a people-centered agenda.”
The Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) has also expressed its concerns over the salary increment dispute. “We are aware that only a few doctors received the increment, and this has demotivated many of our members,” said RDAZ President, Dr. Christopher Simuntala. “We have been engaging the government on this issue, but nothing concrete has come out of it. Our members are already demotivated, and if nothing is done soon, we may be forced to go on strike.”
The Zambian government has acknowledged the concerns raised by medical doctors and has assured them that their grievances will be addressed. “We are aware of the concerns raised by medical doctors, and we are committed to resolving this issue amicably,” said Ministry of Health Permanent Secretary, Dr. Kennedy Malama. “We are engaging with the relevant stakeholders, including the RDAZ, to find a lasting solution to this dispute.”
The government’s commitment to resolving the salary increment dispute has been welcomed by various stakeholders, including the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA). “We appreciate the government’s commitment to resolving this issue, and we urge all parties involved to engage in constructive dialogue to find a lasting solution,” said ZMA President, Dr. Samson Chisele.