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Battle of Salaries: A Doctor's Rights

Physicians in over 25 cities in Sudan have gone on a week-long strike starting today Tuesday, to pressure the government into improving their working conditions, after the ministry of health failed to pay them their two-year pending incentives and guarantee a better environment, says a memorandum published on a Sudanese website.

The government labeled their strike as illegal and President Omar Hassan Al Bashir has threatened through government-owned media organs to dismiss all strikers and have their late financial offs paid immediately.

Doctors have gone on strike in Khatoum, Medani, Sennar, and Port Sudan. They are raising the same demands for improved working conditions and salaries.

Yesterday’s strike is considered the longest since the beginning of the recent crisis last February. Physicians on strike are on partial duty and are declaring their stance by attaching pieces of papers to their white coats indicating in Arabic that they are “strikers working on emergency” to fill the gap in emergency units. Strikes are fueled by medical general practitioners and registrars who are suffering from underpayment and overwork. Their net salaries range between $300 and $400 at the best.

Doctors’ demands are betterment of work environment, payment of their arrears, and raising salaries. The situation tends to be politicized and harsh actions may be taken. Registrar Nahid Mohamed Al Hassan, who is in her early thirties and the head of the committee in charge of striking, has started an open hunger strike following the president’s threats of dismissal today.

She has justified the decision in a YouTube video shot this evening, remarking, “having taken the Hippocratic historical oath swearing to practice medicine ethically and to help people in need, I decided to strike till having our problem solved or die.”

She also shed light on the way female doctors are treated by adding that a group of pre-government physicians entered the place where strikers had gathered yesterday and one of them slapped one of the doctors on her cheek during an argument, underscoring the fact that that physicians are threatened with physical harm.

It is worth mentioning that the right to strike is guaranteed and legalized by the constitution.

The majority of striking doctors work in state hospitals where conditions are deteriorating and emergency services are usually not free of cost.

Doctor Sayid Qanat wrote on a Sudanese website that this crisis dates back to 2001 and continued throughout 2003 and 2004 when commissions were formed and the Ministry of Health acknowledged doctors’ rights and gave empty promises to resolve complaints. A March 13 statement distributed by the Committee for Doctors’ Strike at the beginning of this week, a statement of which World Pulse received a copy, explained the reasons behind their decision to strike.

The statement said that the committee had submitted a memorandum asking for an improvement of working conditions and an increase in what it called “shameful salaries” to the head of the state on February 17. The statement went on explaining the dimension of the crisis and accusing the Ministry of Health of procrastination, adding that doctors raised their demands on 17 January 2010 to Al Bahsir, who ordered Federal Ministry of Health to study the problem and provide suitable resolutions not later than February 28 .

The statement added that although given delay till March 7 to fully solve the problem, the Ministry did not even specify a time frame for fully solving the problem and sparing the country health risks.

According to Suan Watch (March 7, 2009), Darfuri doctors were fired by the “State for striking to improve food and working conditions.”

Pulse Wire will be closely following the situation in Sudan for more details on this crisis.

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Comments

Halima,
From what it seems, this is an ongoing problem of promises made to physicians, threats of loss of their jobs, etc.. since 2001. Every few years, the same incentives and promises are made, yet fail to deliver. But I hope that through this process the vulnerable people of Sudan are not forgotten and that the doctors can use their voice to advocate for a change that will lead the country out of the present conflicts.

Keep us posted Halima and I hope the strike ends soon. Best wishes,
Janice

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Thank you for commenting

Dear Janice,

Imagine the financial situation living conditions in Sudan ; if doctors’, who supposed to represent middle class in society, average salary doesn’t exceed $300, consider the situation of the rest or majority who are living below the poverty line! Who could afford to have medical treatment in private hospitals or clinics? Few people or may be no one!

Me too I hope this won’t affect vulnerable segments of Sudanese society. As far as I know, doctors have declared their commitment to the ethics of profession to the end and that they will shoulder the responsibility of running emergency units in public hospitals. But till when will they fulfill that promise, especially after the president’s escalation and threats to dismiss strikers?
Yet what is expected from doctors threatened to be kicked off and have doors locked before them? This problem needs a radical solution and Sudanese political parties and civil societies should opt to find lasting solution and pressurize Sudanese government into responding to the doctors' demands, especially they aren’t impossible.

This situation is catastrophic and will cause health disasters if it's not been remedied.

Halima

Nusrat Ara's picture

Dear Halima, Haven't heard

Dear Halima,

Haven't heard from u for long. We had a similar kind of strike and they managed to get a raise. Some doctors worked on contractual basis and were paid less than drivers.

Nusrat

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Similar sufferings

Dearest Nusrat,

thank you so much for your concern. I was sick and depressed. This is a long story i will recall when we meet next time on gmail messenger.

It is sad to hear that doctors' and people suffering are similar especially when countries are controlled by one party and exclude the rest. It is the naked truth.

Halima

amal abdelrahman's picture

All my support to sudanese

All my support to sudanese doctors and to Dr Nahed a brave woman ,I really proud of her god bless her down down Elbasher regime and victory to sudanese people who suffered alot under this government ,thank you Halema

Give me love
give me hand
don't let me sink
cause iam a human
cause iam a women

Dear Amal,

Thank you so much for sharing this comment. I am so happy to hear a Sudanese voice joining this vibrant online community and finding her way to communicate and interact with women worldwide.
Thank you for your support to Sudanese physicians in their struggle to get their rights and improve hospitals environment.
In solidarity with Sudanese doctors and with brave writer, poet and human rights activist doctor Nahid Mohamed Al Hassan who enters her second day on hunger strike.

Halima

Starland's picture

Global healthcare crisis

I fully support and cheer - yayyyy- the Sudanese doctors for standing up for their right.

Here in the USA the healthcare is a mess with the government trying to establish something better than what we've had which is bad. Many thousands of us don't have any health insurance and can't afford to see a doctor (very expensive). Many die needlessly. In this little town I live in I founded and was first director of a health care clinic to open in May that will be open to everyone regardless of their ability to pay. Some local men tried (and succeeded once) to shut my effort down simply because I am a woman. It has taken five years of not giving up and a good, but small, support system to get this close to opening and serving the poor so desperate for healthcare. Cheers, too, to the female doctor(s) and staff willing to serve these people here.

I salute the female physicians and nurses everywhere who are willing to stand up and speak out.

K-lee 3709

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

Salut K-lee,

Je suis tres heureuse d'etre une de tes amies et d'avoir recu ton email hier.
La vie est vraiment bien etrange, comme disait un des intelectuels europens. Au moment que j'e croyais que j'ai jette le Fracais derriere mon dos, j'ai recu ton message. Je suis tres heureuse de faire la connaissance de quelqu'un qui parle le Francais. Il est a noter que je me suis forcee d'arreter le parler, ilya une vingtaine d'annees. Un jour je te relaterai mon histoire avec le francais, puis l'anglais et enfin le retour a la langue natale (arabe).
Je dois reviser mon Francais avant de l'evoyer. Mais je ne peux pas maintenant parce que je n'ai pas de temps. Desole!

I am so happy. It is my lucky day to have received your email and become one of your friends. You are a an incredible woman whom I was following writings but didn't dare comment. I admit.One day I will tell the reason. I love your personality and determination to overcoming disease and continue forcing your way taking advantage of every moment by turning it into productivity and making a difference in people's lives.

Dear K-lee, if this is the case of physicians in the USA, imagine the situation in Sudan! I dare say comparison is impossible. Here (meaning in Sudan) Doctors strive to make the two ends meet.

Am wondering why the Sudanese government does not respond to their demands and rescue thousands of patients who are in need of urgent assistance, instead of procrastination , and tone of superiority and threatening!!
I will shed light on this crisis.

lots of love,

Halima

This is the end of our dreams as medical doctors in Sudan,inspite of civil war,bad relationships with other countries,financial diffculties and many other critical situations,,,,,,,, look at the response of the sudanese government regarding the doctor's right,

Halima Mohamed Abdel rahman's picture

Welcome sis!

Dear Dr. Sulafa,

Marhaba ya ukhti (Welcome sis), on this great vibrant online community and you have done the right thing to join a large audience (some 4200 members) working here and exchanging views and experiences)

Don't be pessimistic.As you are holding your head high and holding your stance against intimidating and efforts to getting you down, No one conquers you.. NO ONE CONQUERS A MOUNTAIN!
I am certain the sun will shine soon and every thing gonna be OK.

By the way I follow closely what you write on Sudaneseonline website and enjoy reading your informative comments.

Lots of love and hugs,

Halima

Doctors Strike in Northern Sudan
Doctors Strike in Northern Sudan

17 March 2010 - (Khartoum) - Sudanese doctors have started a one-week strike demanding their arrears and the suspension of the federal Minister of Health.

The doctors are protesting about inadequate pay and poor working conditions in hospitals all over northern Sudan.

The chairperson of the doctors’ strike committee, Dr. Nahid Mohamed Hassan, told SRS on Tuesday in Khartoum that the strike will affect all sectors, except emergency operations.

[Dr. Nahid Mohamed Hassan]: “We are on strike for one week because the health situation is not good and we have many demands. Right from the beginning, we have said that doctors in Sudan live and work in bad conditions but nothing was done about it. There is no proper training to provide adequate services to the patients. For us who specialize in this field, we know these kinds of situations. We are demanding better working conditions for the next generation of doctors, but the National Congress Party has announced that striking doctors will be punished.”

Dr. Nahid Mohamed Hassan added that doctors are calling for the suspension of the federal Minister of Health, Tabitha Boutros, due to her failure to instruct her ministry to respond to their demands.

[Dr. Nahid Mohamed Hassan]: “We have been waiting for two years, camping at the door of the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Health. He treats us like children, transferring us from one committee to another as if there is nothing important in our cause. As specialists, we are 3400 doctors, but now in Sudan there is a large-scale strike combining all medical officers and general practioners.”

The federal Ministry of Health has threatened to punish any doctor who fails to report to work on Wednesday.
Source: SRS - Sudan Radio Service
http://www.sudanradio.org/doctors-strike-northern-sudan

Doctors' strike still going on..Dr. Nahid Mohamed Al Hassan, a registrar and strike committee media head, broke her hunger strike yesterday.

Doctors' strike escalated and and entered the 3rd week without serious attempts to find lasting solutions.
Two days ago the police surrounded Bahri Teaching Hospital, Khartoum , where doctors were convening a meeting, assaulted and chased them from the premises. They responded by withdrawing interns from hospitals unless the government fulfills their demands.

A new mediation committee composed of several scientists, doctors and professors from different specializations and members from the Federal Ministry of Health was formed lately to bridge the gab between the two but reached a deadlock.

On the other hand, Prof. Huda Muhammed Haroun director General of Medani Pediatric Hospital (Central Sudan, 250 km south of Khartoum) dismissed 65 doctors and relieved them of their duties. Dismissal warrants issued last Sunday, following failed efforts to prevent doctors from convening in the hospital.

The list of fired doctors included 40 interns, 10 general physicians and 15 medical registrars.

The Medani's doctors are part of the ongoing physicians' strike that has taken place three weeks ago in 25 capitals including Khartoum. Doctors had joined the striking movement in accordance to the directives set by the Striking Doctors Committee.

Starland's picture

Power

Why is that Power Over held by a few in governmental positions deny the health, rights and even professions of the population? Even in mediation the ones controlling the purse strings usually "win." Those with expertise and compassion are denied by those "who just don't give a damn." Hang in there all you doctors and aids on the front lines of this battle for justice. Our hearts and prayers are with you.

K-lee 3709

K-lee Starland, Ph.D.

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