October 12, 2016 (KHARTOUM) - Sudan’s Health Minister Bahr Idriss Abu Garda has expected that doctors call off their strike and resume work soon, but the strikers persist that concrete measures are needed before to end the seven-day protest.
Sudanese doctors have begun a strike in all the country’s hospitals since last Thursday, refusing non-emergency treatments to patients. They protest poor working conditions, lack of medicines and medical material. Also, the practitioners demand protection after the increase of attacks by frustrated patients and their families.
Sudan’s Health and the Central Committee of Sudanese Doctors (CCSD) held a meeting on Wednesday for the first time since starting of the strike last Thursday to discuss the claims of the strikers and strike a deal with them to end the movement.
Following the meeting, Abu Garda said that the strike will be called off shortly, without giving a fixed date, pointing out that there are initiatives to resolve the crisis from many bodies, including the official Doctors Union.
However the CCSD has insisted that preparing timetable to respond to the doctors’ demands including improving of the working environment and protection of medical personnel are prerequisites to call off their strike.
The independent union in addition, acknowledged mediations to end the strike but denied any intention to end the strike without reaching a deal on a timetable to meet their demands.
In a press conference on Wednesday, Abu Garda said his ministry has imported medical equipment and medicines at a cost of 7.5 billion SDG, and dismissed accusations that those equipments were already in the ministry stores.
He further pointed out that the free treatment for patients coasts 115 million dollar every year and that the ministry spends 80% of its budget on the hospitals.
He called for tougher punishments against those who attack doctors, and to increase it to reach 15 years in prison, as do some countries. However, he rejected a demand for police presence inside the hospitals to protect doctors, indicating that police’s role is restricted to secure and regulate the hospital’s gates.
He said that the health situation in the country is “not bad”, stressing that the government is working to reform the country’s health system.
For their part, the strikers disclosed the minister admitted there are failures of the health system besides the lack of equipments and promised to meet the doctors’ demands as well as to enact the law to protect doctors.
They also said they told the minister that the Khartoum state ministry of health is responsible for the current crisis because it has failed to manage the federal hospitals and provision of medical equipments, asking the minister to return them under the supervision of the Federal Ministry of Health.
A CCSD member, who requested anonymity, told (Sudan Tribune) that the committee did not decide to end the strike so far. He said that all health centres in Khartoum state joined the strike on Wednesday as well as the civilian doctors at the Police Hospital,
He stated that there are tense efforts to end the strike brokered by several bodies including the Medical Board, Medical Specialties Board and senior doctors and specialists.
The total of the hospitals taking part in the strike has reached 84 hospitals, according to the CCSD.