LUSAKA (29th May 2021)
The Government of the Republic of Zambia through the Ministry of Health is dismayed with the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia’s (RDAZ) continued attempts to disrupt delivery of health services through a ‘GO-SLOW’ which should have started on Friday, 28th May, 2021 at 20:00 hours.
The public may remember that the same RDAZ president had issued a similar statement for the ‘Go Slow’ which should have started on the 24th May 2021 but was later called off.
Government would like to commend all the well-meaning Doctors who have remained resolute and refused to be swayed by the actions of the RDAZ president and have continued to provide health services to the people of Zambia particularly at this crucial time when the number of COVID-19 cases have continued to escalate.
Further we applaud the Zambia Medical Association for the continuous meanigful engagement we continue to have which have led the progress this far.
Government reiterates its unwavering commitment to ensure that the concerns of healthcare workers and Doctors are effectively attended to and this is demonstrated by the continued engagements with various stakeholders including Unions.
As you may be aware, the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) demanded 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.
These issues have been ably addressed as follows:
i. Salary arrears for the 309 medical doctors – Government cleared arrears on all the 309 medical doctors.
ii. Payment of gratuity and other arrears for medical doctors – Government has mobilized funds to start dismantling arrears for health workers including doctors in a phased up manner.
iii. Recruitment of unemployed medical doctors – As stated before, following the issuance of Treasury Authority to recruit Health workers, Ministry of Health in collaboration with Public Service Management Division and Civil Service Commission has started recruiting 766 various medical personnel including medical doctors and this process will be completed soon.
iv. Creation of positions for SRMO and Registrars – The Ministry has included 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.
As you may recall Government through the Ministry of Health, Public Service Management Division and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting Services on many occasions has been engaging the Zambia Medical Association (ZMA) and RDAZ executives on the same matters and has been providing progress.
In the last meeting held on 21st May 2021, it was agreed that a follow up meeting would be held on 5th June, 2021 to provide further progress on the matters particularly on dismantling arrears.
Surprisingly, the President of RDAZ proceeded to issue a unilateral directive through a memo dated 28th May, 2021 that a ‘go slow’ would commence with effect on the same day at 20:00 hours.
This is despite a roadmap having been drawn at the meeting held on 21st May 2021 and RDAZ not having reverted to the Ministry of Health following this meeting.
The uncalled for action by the RDAZ president puts the lives of Zambians at risk, worse still at the time when the country is fighting COVID-19 and ensuring continuity of essential health services.
The nation may wish to know that the president of RDAZ is currently facing disciplinary action under Zambezi District Health Office in North Western Province and the disciplinary process will be concluded soon.
We would like to reiterate that RDAZ is not a Union but an Association of Medical Doctors and as such they are not a bargaining Unit. The Ministry of Health has kept its doors open to the Association for mutual engagements as part of its open door policy.
Government wishes to stress its earlier position that the announced ‘go slow’ by RDAZ president is not only illegal but a violation of the Professional Code of Ethics under the Health Professions Act and the Service Commission Disciplinary Code and Procedures for Handling Offences in the Public Service.
In this regard, individual Medical Doctors who will be found to be in breach of these provisions shall individually be liable to disciplinary action including dismissal from the Civil service.
Government has noted the timely action taken by HPCZ against the RDAZ president and applauds the institution for putting premium on saving the lives of Zambians. Further Government has noted that some executive members of RDAZ have filed an injunction in the Ndola High court against the RDAZ president.
It is important to inform the public that in the past four (4) years, 24,875 health workers have been employed in the public service including medical doctors. Further, in 2021 Government is currently recruiting 766 health care workers including medical doctors using the granted Treasury Authority for 2021 and the utilization of existing vacant and funded positions.
Government would like to assure the public that all necessary measures have been put in place to ensure that there will be no disruption to health services in the country.
Let me once again take this opportunity to commend the Medical Doctors who have continued to defy the call by the RDAZ president for Doctors to withdraw Labor even when Government has addressed some of the issues raised and is on course to addressing the remaining ones.
Government hopes that this Go Slow is not politically motivated.
I thank you and God bless!
Issued by:Boniface Chimbwali
Public Service Management Division