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City of Banjul
Saturday, October 31, 2020

Centre for human rights speaks on doctors’ strike

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Press release

The Center For Human Rights And Development is concerned about the ongoing sit-down strike by resident Gambian doctors. These doctors continue to strike despite their apology demand being met. The strike, which has already taken a great toll on human life as evidenced by the reported record number of deaths, especially at the Accident And Emergency Unit, is nothing but an over-reaction by professionals with a hidden agenda.

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As providers of essential services, doctors have evidently demonstrated their readiness to pursue their selfish desire even at the detriment of human lives. The sit-down strike is unacceptable, meaningless and unethical. Instead of gaining public attention and sympathy, the striking doctors have lost public confidence. How can we sympathise with professionals who refuse to budge while they watch helpless patients dying?
Do these doctors forget they have moral duties and responsibilities to save the lives of patients? If they cared about their patients’ wellbeing, the sit-down strike would have lasted a few hours.

Health Minister Mrs. Saffie Lowe-Ceesay’s statement that doctors stock private pharmacies with public medicines is an open secret. Most Gambia doctors either own pharmacy or work for private clinics. Often times doctors refer patients to buy drugs from these pharmacies.

Doctors should call off the strike with immediate effect and return to work. Graduating medical students swear by the Hippocratic Oath that “care of the patient is a contractual obligation for the doctors and is superior to all other responsibilities.” From the utilitarian perspective, doctors’ strike is justifiable only if there is evidence of long term benefits to the doctors, patients and an improvement in service delivery. Gambian doctors’ strike benefits no one – not even doctors. It only creates deaths, prolongs suffering of patients, causes irreversible damage to health care and delays treatment. Its direct bearing on the economy is substantial.

Since health care delivery is the highest attainable standard of a fundamental right of every human being, doctors should balance their individual rights and their duty to the patients. In the words Mahatma Gandhi, all compromise is base on give and take. Clearly, there can be no give and take on fundamentals. We are serious concerned and therefore call on the Coalition government to order doctors to return to work immediately or seek help elsewhere.

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