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May 23, 2024
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MINISTRY WARNS MEDICAL DOCTORS AGAINST STRIKE

Maseru, July 30 — The Ministry of Health has  strongly warned medical doctors against the strike they are planning to institute tomorrow (Monday).

According to the statement issued by the ministry and signed by Director General Health Services, Dr. ‘Nyane Letsie, it states that the doctors have to remember the pledge they have taken thus to put the life of patients before their own interests.

It also reminds the said doctors that health services are fundamental human rights therefore they have to be offered at all times without any hindrance.

Again, it notes that the strike is illegal and that legally they are not supposed to down tools as they provide essential services highlighting that if the ministry has failed to keep end of their bargain, they (doctors) have to take such to courts of law as that is dispute of right and not dispute of interest therefore they do not have right to strike while lives of Basotho are in danger.

Moreover, the statement indicates that for some time now, the doctors have not been granting due services to Basotho on the basis that they are not paid for overtime and on numerous occasions, the ministry has assured them of the intention to pay such money as per order of the High Court.

It further indicates that to date, the ministry has managed to include the said allowances in the 2023/24 budget, to pay doctors going for overtime in the current financial year and to take to the Ministry of Finance all debts from when payment of overtime was stopped.

On the other hand, the ministry has emphasised that doctors do not have a right to strike but they can go to courts of law if they are not happy with the measures that the former has taken. “The ministry would not allow for the lives of Basotho to be at risk or lost due to illegal strikes. It is unfortunate that these bad actions of putting Basotho lives in danger happen at the time when the ministry decided that health facilities be led by Basotho doctors,” it stresses.

Therefore further emphasised that all doctors are ordered to report for duty on Monday at 08:00 without failure adding that those that will not oblige, the ministry will institute action against them as per public service act and regulations.

Contrary to this, the Lesotho Medical Association (LMA) has issued a statement which states that the association is disconcerted by the recent communication that has been sent to its members saying they never thought they would have to defend their nationality in this dispute in a way in which the ministry has decided to weaponize unjustly and single out their Basotho doctors.

It notes that the message further pushes them back in an era when it was inconceivable to see a Mosotho doctor in most parts of this country saying it diminishes the long time notion that has been to build and to allow Basotho to provide health care services for their own people.

It adds that three district hospitals are run by expatriate doctors and their members’ discontent include expatriate doctors but highlights that the ministry has purposefully neglected to mention this.

“LMA would like to make the ministry aware that it is not by favour that Basotho doctors hold these posts, it is by birth right and qualifications in a similar fashion used in the central level,” it stresses.

The statement further notes that the ministry as a policy maker in their wisdom have had a clear examination of the long term impact to their words. Thus putting out a message that being a Mosotho doctor is the problem yet the ministry is fully aware of their hand in this dispute. It is the fear of LMA that this memo also puts targets on Basotho doctors’ backs saying if this kind of attacks continue then the association in no good conscience will be able to accept any assurance of the safety of Basotho doctors in their different work areas.

Again, it indicates that LMA hopes after the public has an opportunity to see this memo and actually see what they have long suspected ever since they tried having constructive engagements with the ministry in the past six years when Basotho doctors started pouring into the country. “The ministry has always demanded a master and slave relationship with its doctors, unfortunately the heel on the back of doctors that the ministry has since inflicted has reached its threshold,” says the statement.

Amidst this, the Minister of Health Mr. Selibe Mochoboroane has since last year been going around health facilities across the country to remind health professionals of the ministry’s mandate of offering quality health services and promoting primary health care.

Ends

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