THE Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) has directed all its branches to hold an urgent branch meeting today, following the growing number of health personnel getting infected with COVID-19 and the escalating levels of anxiety among its membership.
But Health Minister Dr Chitalu Chilufya says this is not time to arm twist government, or for industrial disputes, assuring that government is addressing the doctors’ concerns.
Part of the agenda for the RDAZ meeting is the issue of Personal Protective Equipments (PPEs), uncertainty of matters of compensation in an event of death due to COVID-19 and the issue of incentives that have remained hanging for a longtime.
But at his daily briefing yesterday, Dr Chilufya noted that the Ministry of Health had continuously engaged with RDAZ leadership at national level and at branch level to ensure that matters to do with PPEs, incentives and compensation were addressed.
He confirmed that government had managed to distribute PPEs to all their key points and that medical authorities in their various institutions had been under directive to procure PPEs even with the grants and the compensation monies that had been coming from the Health Insurance Company.
“The Resident Doctors Association of Zambia are partners of the government in the provision of health services. The mother body that looks at the welfare of doctors in the country and also matters to do with medicine in the nation. The Zambia Medical Association works with RDAZ and government through the Ministry of Health to ensure that the welfare of doctors is enhanced and that the public is protected from public health hazards. The Ministry of Health has continuously engaged with the Resident Doctors Association of Zambia leadership at national level and at branch level to ensure that matters to do with Personal Protective Equipments, incentives and compensation are addressed. So it is working progress,” Dr Chilufya said.
“For PPEs, I can confirm that with what government has procured [and] received from well-wishers, we have managed to distribute PPEs to all our key points. Even with the grants and the compensation monies that has been coming from the Health Insurance Company, medical authorities in our various institutions have been under directive to procure PPEs. So we are working closely with RDAZ, with ZMA to ensure that we address all matters pertaining to the welfare of the front line practitioners of medicine. Not only RDAZ, remember that at the front line are also nurses who are in the majority and we have had meetings with unions and associations that look at the welfare of nurses and both the RDAZ or the leadership for medical doctors, including nursing unions have been in constant touch with us.”
And Dr Chilufya observed that the country was now facing a public health war.
He urged health workers to ensure that they rallied behind the Zambian people and fought at the battle front to protect citizens.
“We want to thank them for their leadership and commitment to duty. We are facing a public health war and during this public health war, we do not engage in industrial disputes. During a public health war, we are united and in solidarity. We fight at the battle front to protect the Zambian citizens. Therefore, the spirit in which we engage with our colleagues in the leadership of the associations of professionals is not in a manner to cause industrial disharmony but is in a manner to see how occupational health, occupational safety is enhanced and how we can work together to ensure that the war is won,” said Dr Chilufya.
“Remember ours is a calling, is a vocation and in times of this, we will ensure that we rally behind the Zambian people and be the troops at the battle front to fight the war. So it is not the time that we will arm-twist the public or government but we will work in line with our ethics, our vocation [and] our professional responsibilities to ensure that we protect the public. And matters to do with our security as professionals, occupational health security, these are matters we address continuously. It is for this reason that I would like to assure you that His Excellency the President has directed that more health workers be recruited and this is being done, [and that] incentives be provided.”