THE Resident Doctors Association of Zambia (RDAZ) has requested government to render extra care to health professionals on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 by giving them relief in terms of personal protective equipment, compensation and other incentives.

On Sunday, RDAZ acting secretary general Dr Wilson Bwalya issued a notice to members of the association in which he directed all branches to hold meetings in which the wellbeing of the health worker handling COVID-19 cases was to be discussed and come up with recommendations to the higher offices.

But in an interview, RDAZ president Dr Isaac Sakala stated that the association had decided to indefinitely suspend these branch meetings pending government’s response to their request.

“We indeed issued a memo following growing anxiety from our membership because of the same issues that were tabulated in the memo; issues of PPE, issues of compensation in an event of death because of COVID-19 and also issues of incentives. So we had directed our members to meet and make submissions and also some possible ways in which we will proceed with this matter. However, we have continued to engage the government since the issuance of that memo and we are hoping that something comes up, so we’ve postponed those meetings indefinitely. We want to get feedback from government on the position where things have reached. They engaged [us] saying they are doing something to make sure things are okay [for health personnel]. So until such a time when we get feedback and see where things are, that’s when we will be able to share our thoughts also on the same outcome as well,” Dr Sakala said.

Asked what kind of outcome the association was expecting from government, Dr Sakala said the health personnel only wanted assurance that their government was with them in this difficult time.

“Well, I think the type of outcome we expect is throughout this COVID-19, government has come out to support SMEs that have hurt with impact of COVID-19. Government has come out to support the less privileged, they’ve released some funds in form of socio-economic impact buffering. So I think for us, all we just want to see is government to also come out and stand with the health workers. Us we just want to see government standing with the health workers. They should do something that will show that really, they are standing with the health workers. For us, that’s just what we want to see. Health workers want to see that the government is with them, they don’t want to feel alone,” said Dr Sakala.