Strike: Muhimbili forms mediation team

The Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) management has formed a committee to mediate between the government and striking doctors, to help break an impasse that has paralysed medical services on an unprecedented scale in Tanzania’s post-independence history.

Formation of  the team that comprises specialist doctors,  was the outcome of a meeting convened by the MNH Executive Director, Dr Marina Njelekela, to discuss the appalling conditions at the country’s leading medical facility.

According to the MNH Senior Public Relations Officer, Mr Aminiel Eligaesha, the specialists, none of whom has been participating in the strike,  expressed dismay over the consistently deteriorating situation at the hospital, as the ongoing strike had been affecting innocent patients.
Dr Njelekela

“The specialist doctors resolved that the committee’s main task would be to create a forum for discussions between the government and striking doctors,  to resolve the impasse and set the stage for services  to resume. They are proposing that the point man on the government side should be the Prime Minister, Mr Mizengo Pinda,” he said.

He told journalists that the  five-member team, whose members he didn’t disclose,   was confident that it would have laid the groundwork for the proposed meeting  by the middle of next week.

“We hope that this initiative will  yield positive developments in  this sorry state of health services. We hope that they will be able to bring the  two  sides together, and that they will resolve their differences and reach an amicable agreement,” he said.

The  nearly three-hour long meeting at MNH was held in camera, Dr Njelekela  having told journalists earlier that the doctors needed privacy to discuss the sensitive issue.

She had, however, promised to  brief them on its highlights later, but didn’t do so. This was the first time that Dr Njelekela had appeared in public since  the saga started brewing nearly two weeks ago.

It was initially triggered by  the government’s move to crack down on aggrieved medical interns, and deepened when their senior professional colleagues joined  them in solidarity.

Meanwhile, spot checks by The Citizen at Amana hospital in Ilala Municipality and that of Temeke established that patients from Muhimbili have been reporting to the hospitals for treatment.

A nurse on duty at Amana Hospital confirmed that they had experienced an increase  in the number of patients since the strike started at Muhimbili hospital.

Mr Joachim John said he  had relocated a relative  with  intestine complications to Amana, after staying at Muhimbili without being attended to for three consecutive days. The patient had been referred there from Morogoro Regional Hospital, he explained further.

He said four other  patients in the same ward with his relative had  been relocated there from elsewhere.

 “The government, the President in particular, should take immediate actions to make sure doctors resume work… they should not prolong their issues at the expense of our lives,”  Mr John said.

Visits by The Citizen  to private hospitals did not reveal considerable changes.  An official at Regency Hospital in Upanga said the number of patients was fairly constant, explaining, by the way, that many customers were seeking laboratory services.

Meanwhile, Mr Eligaesha said that  after the arrival of military doctors who started manning the Emergency Medical Department of MNH on Tuesday, the turnout of patients  there began to pick up.

He said by last Tuesday evening the department received about 25 patients from less than 10 patients who have been going there previously, during the strike period.

In related developments, the Tanzania Union of Government and Health Employees (Tughe) has called on the government to hold talks with the striking doctors immediately,  to save  the lives of patients.

The deputy Secretary general of Tughe, Mr John Sanjo, said the government was supposed to end problems in the healthcare sector once and for all, by implementing  the contract terms of the health sector public servants.

“While the talks would be on progress,  however, we are appealing to the striking doctors to resume services and save the lives of our fellow Tanzanians,” he said.

He said the Tughe supported all demands by striking doctors and the Government had to address them.
Source: The Citizen,, reported by Bernard Lugongo and Mkinga Mkinga

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