The Medical Association of Tanzania (MAT) yesterday expressed its readiness to resume talks with the government in a move aimed at averting a looming strike over the medics’ unmet demands.
The move comes barely two days after the government expressed readiness to go back to the negotiating table with the doctors to try to resolve existing sticking points.
The statements from the two opposing parties comes a few days after the doctors announced that they would stage an endless strike within two weeks if the government failed to work on their long-standing demands and concerns.
In an interview with The Guardian yesterday, Minister for Health and Social Welfare Dr Hussein Mwinyi said he had already communicated with the MAT leadership, expressing his readiness to discuss their concerns.
“I am ready to talk to them with a view to clarifying some issues and finding a lasting solution to them,” said Mwinyi.
He said the decision by MAT to declare a dispute with the government in two weeks was a window of opportunity for the government and the doctors to sit together and discuss their concerns and state the government's position.
Dr Mwinyi said it was now upon the MAT leaders to inform him when and where the two parties would meet for discussions.
For his part, MAT secretary general Dr Rodrick Kabangila described the minister’s statement as a positive gesture on the part of the government to ensure the doctors’ problems came to an end.
“In fact, we are glad that the government is ready to at the negotiating table with the doctors and discuss their concerns,” he said.
He said the doctors were very disappointed with the government's failure to implement measures mutually agreed upon between a MAT committee and the government a few months back, which were backed by President Jakaya Kikwete.
A committee composed of government officers, representative from the ministry and the doctors proposed, among other things, to set long-term plans and instructed the ministry to set up a road map for dealing with the doctors' concerns.
“Sadly, the government has failed to give a road map for implementing things that ought to be a burden…we wished to see the government coming up with an implementation programme,” he said.
On Saturday medical practitioners in the country issued a 14-day ultimatum to the government to work on their long-standing claims or else they would stage an endless countrywide strike.
In a closed meeting to discuss implementation a report of the government-led committee held in Dar es Salaam, the doctors were surprised and disappointed that the government had not implemented most of the things it had agreed to.