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Gambian Medical doctors embark on a sit-down strike, asks Health Minister to resign

In The Gambia, medical doctors have embarked on a sit down strike, according to local reports. The nationwide strike started on Thursday. The Medical and Dental Association of The Gambia (MDAG) in collaboration with the Association of Resident Doctors of the Gambia are jointly spearheading the sit-down strike.

The Gambia Resident Doctors Association gave the Health Minister Saffie Lowe a 48 hours ultimatum to resign and it expired, so they sent out press releases announcing the beginning of their strike. The doctors are not happy with the Health Minister’s allegations that some of their colleagues have been stealing drugs from health facilities to operate private pharmacies.

At a news conference held on Monday, the doctors demanded an apology from Minister Saffie Lowe Ceesay.

Dr. Neneh Bah the Vice President of association announced that the strike is going to take place in different faces. In Face one, there will be emergency doctors stationed in each medical facility, but there wouldn’t be any ward and outpatient services. War and outpatient services would be closed to the public henceforth.

Among the major hospitals affected by the doctors’ strike include: the main referral hospital in Banjul, the RVTH, Kanifing, Farafenni, Buwiam, and Basse.

She said Face Two of their strike action will mean shutting down the entire health system. She adds that doctors will not be available in our health facilities to attend to patients.

The striking doctors are demanding for the immediate resignation of Health Minister Saffie Lowe Ceesay. They accused her of being incompetent and unfit to run the Ministry.

Among their demands include the hiring of a technocrat, who is experienced enough to run the Health Ministry. Ms. Bah maintains that such a Ministry should be headed by a technocrat and not an incompetent person like Saffie Lowe. She opines that if other Ministries such as Justice, Education, and Agriculture are headed by technocrats why not the Health Ministry.

According to the striking doctors, it is no secret that even basic medications are routinely unavailable in Gambia’s health facilities; not to mention the laboratory tests.

The doctors also lamented that childbirth, which is supposed to be memorable moment for all parents, remains a high risk in the Gambia, while maternal mortality is “unacceptably high.” And today we are amongst the bottom 8 in Africa according to the WHO, the doctors added.

Medical doctors, they said, work under very unsafe conditions in which they are constantly exposed to infectious agents without proper protective wear leading to health risks to themselves and to patients they care for.

Below is the striking doctors statement.

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