Now that the Minister of Health and Social Welfare has swallowed her pride and apologised “to anyone who might have been offended” by her statement, we hope the striking medical doctors will return to work and save lives of patients at government health facilities.
A statement attributed to the Health Minister Saffie Lowe-Ceesay on February 28th that young medical doctors are in the habit of stealing medicines at the government health facilities has been met with angry reaction, with doctor’s association demanding an apology. Even after the Information Minister Demba Jawo insisted the statement attributed to Mrs. Lowe-Ceesay was incorrect, medical doctors still went ahead with their first-ever sit-down strike.
Mrs. Lowe-Ceesay herself knows the impact of striking doctors on the country’s health sector. As such, she issued a statement clarifying “that the statement I made was not out of malice. On the contrary, it was made to turn around the negative image that the Ministry is synonymous with.”
“As custodian of the sector and in the interest of the population,” she writes, “I extend an apology to anyone who might have been offended by the statement.
The Ministry will continue to work in earnest and in close collaboration with all health personnel and ignore the undue distraction to put in place a desired drug accessibility system and better service delivery for the Gambian population who deserved better.”
If medical doctors still want to sustain strike insisting the resignation of the Health Minister, the public will then buy into the rumour circulating in town that medical association is preparing the stage for its preferred ministerial candidate. What more do they want the Health Minister or the government to do beyond issuing an apology? A public apology is enough to settle the dust. Where lives are at stake we must trade cautiousness. Doctors are too important to be ignored but that doesn’t mean they too cannot move to the center and blink where necessary. It is time to bury the hatchet and get back to work. There cannot be a healthy nation without dedicated healthcare workers.