Every other day, we hear of one group or the other calling for a sit-down strike. On the surface, it looks like people (professionals) are finding these strikes fashionable and as such are joining the bandwagon to be in vogue. As we just entered into a new democracy, we tend to be overly conscious of political correctness. Everyone wants to be politically correct when they speak on anything.
Well, looking at the doctors’ strike in that light will appear to be an oversimplification of the whole situation. The various strikes we have observed so far have all had their results of sorts, and their impact was felt across the country. This one, (the doctors’) however, threatens to be more severe in consequences. A doctor staying away from his work is obviously more likely to have more immediate consequences than, say a teacher staying away from the classroom as his impact will be felt only years later.
Initially, it appeared that the Association of Resident Doctors just wanted the minister to resign and then they would go back to the hospitals; but, as the issue dragged longer, other concerns began to emerge, and it became a classical “Daxxa genaar waxaale sa sohla’ (while chasing a hen, you say your piece). It has appeared that the doctors have been unhappy about their work conditions for long. Well, Madam Lowe-Ceesay gave them a platform when she made those statements which purported to say that the doctors were corrupt. This statement was understandably taken badly by the doctors.
This unfortunate saga has gone on for close to three weeks now and there is no solution in sight, yet. The doctors and the Ministry should certainly sit down and negotiate. There is no doubt that the doctors have a genuine cause and are absolutely justified in their protest – the manner of the protest may be open for debate, whether a strike is the right thing to do or not – but no one will argue with the fact that they have a cause. The condition of our hospitals is woeful and successive governments have sadly failed to find a lasting solution.
The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, I am reliably informed, recognizes the cause and genuineness of the doctors’ complaints and have reached out to sit down and explain their side of the story. They have intimated to me that most, if not all, the concerns of the doctors are already being addressed if only they had a chance to explain. According to a highly placed source at the Ministry, the doctors have not really been engaging them. Certainly, there is a consensus in the country that the sit-down strike should end, and soon.
In Fula, there is a saying ‘Saare haande wel suma’ (Before a village becomes enjoyable it has to burn down first). Perhaps if a solution is negotiated – I hope it will be soon – the Ministry and the Association of Resident Doctors will work towards a good working relationship.
This writeup is to call on all public officials, ministers, permanent secretaries and other ranking government officials to understand that the Gambia has changed for good. We have all been silently screaming about our poor working conditions and relationship with our governors, this new democracy has thus given everyone the right and ability to flex their muscles and change their lot.
Though the doctors are right in protesting, they should now consider other ways of channeling their frustrations so that the loss of lives will be halted.
Have a Good Day Mr President…
Tha Scribbler Bah
A Concerned Citizen