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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Breakthrough in negotiations on doctors’ strike

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By Alagie Manneh

Doctors in public hospitals will resume work ‘today’ offering only ’emergency services,’ impeccable sources told The Standard.

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This breakthrough came after negotiations initiated by the office of the Vice President, our sources said.
The President of the striking doctors, Ebrima Bah, described it as a “huge progress,” achieved mainly by the assurances, promises and commitments made by the Vice President and her office.

Mr Bah would not say when exactly the whole crisis will end but he added that the doctors felt they need to return to their patients as negotiations continue.
“Our people will be back to work,” Mr Bah told The Standard. “We are still sorting out a few technical issues with the Office of the Vice President. We only agreed on some areas, and that’s why emergency services will resume tomorrow.”

Bah said they are yet to reach terms on other issues highlighted by both parties.
“Both sides have to look at these [negotiating] documents,” he added.
Asked whether their demand for the minister’s resignation – which many said is unrealistic – has been met, the president said issues in the health sector have “gone beyond the minister.”

“People need to understand that in negotiations, not all your demands can sometimes be met. The demands that are going to be achieved here are in line with some of our aspirations.”
Doctor Bah said whatever happens, he takes pride in the fact that many Gambians now understand issues underpinning their health sector.

“Today, a lot of Gambians understand the problems in our health system. The government also now understands these problems. That alone is huge progress,” he said.
He said it is now the responsibility of journalists and perhaps advocates, to do follow-ups in making sure commitments and promises made by government officials in these negotiations are fulfilled.

“We appeal to all journalists. Indeed, a lot of commitments have been made, so we need journalists to ask them questions in this respect and make sure these politicians fulfill promises made.”

Hitting back at critics who condemned the strike saying doctors swore to a sacrosanct oath to always help the sick, doctor Bah said those people don’t understand the realities on the ground.
“I am telling them to come here and see for themselves the deplorable conditions we are faced with. Some of the deaths in our hospitals are not down to lack of doctors, but lack of resources or tools to do our work.”

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