Maputo, 23 Aug (AIM) – The Mozambican Medical Association (AMM), at a meeting on Wednesday, decided to suspend the doctors’ strike that has been under way for the past month and a half.
The doctor’s decision, announced by the Chairperson of the AMM, Milton Tatia, comes a day after Prime Minister Adriano Maleiane was appointed to chair the negotiations that the government has been holding with the health professionals, replacing the health minister, Armindo Tiago.
“Doctors will return to work tomorrow and in the meantime hope to see progress in negotiations by 2 October”, Tatia said, adding that this is a new chapter in the process of negotiations between the government and the doctors.
The suspension of the strike is thus only for 40 days. If the AMM does not like whatever has been negotiated by 2 October, the health service might be plunged back into misery.
On Wednesday morning, President Filipe Nyusi reiterated his call for an end to the strikes in the health sector. “As fellow citizens, we must continue our dialogue. We would like to hear that our brothers, tomorrow, are back at work. Go back to your posts, go back to the emergency center, back to the laboratory, get behind the wheel of the ambulance and go back to your posts”, he said.
It is not clear whether this intervention by the President had a significant impact on the AMM decision – but it was obvious that the AMM leadership was pleased that future negotiations will be handled by the Prime Minister.
“Based on this advance”, said Tatia, “we have decided to give a vote of confidence to this team that has been created, and we shall provisionally interrupt the strike”.
By 2 October, he added, “we shall verify whether particular working conditions that we consider crucial have been complied with”.
Tatia did not say what those conditions are, but, according to the government, the main sticking point has been overtime pay, with the AMM demanding that overtime payments for doctors should be four times higher than for anybody else in the public administration.
There is no sign yet of any end to the second strike in the health service, that called by the Association of United Health Professionals (APSUSM) which claims to represent all health workers other than doctors.
It is not clear how many doctors obeyed the AMM’s strike call. Clearly the strike was not solid, since last week the AMM leadership threatened to expel from the association any doctor who did not go on strike.
In some units, health staff refused to take strike action. Thus none of the doctors or nurses stationed at the cholera treatment centre in the northern city of Nampula stopped work.
But in some large hospitals, a minimum level of services was only possible thanks to the work of foreign doctors and of trainees.
Deputy Health Minister Ilesh Jani was to have given a press conference on Wednesday afternoon about the state of the strikes and of the negotiations. But the press conference was suddenly cancelled without explanation – perhaps because Jani had been informed that the AMM was about to suspend its strike.