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Govt, doctors cease fire


…Doctors expected to resume full duties amid call allowances dispute

Ntsoaki Motaung

A ceasefire and resumption of duty by members of the Lesotho Medical Association (LMA) was announced this week.

However, it is not water under the bridge yet, as LMA states that the call allowance dispute still lingers.

LMA and the Health Ministry met during a critical meeting and it was resolved that medical doctors would resume their full duties, a temporary decision that brings relief to patients and the healthcare system.

In a statement earlier this week, LMA said from August 8, 2023, doctors would be back on duty from 8 am to 4:30 pm, offering their expertise and care to patients.

But, they will not immediately resume call duties because the issue of unpaid call allowances remains unresolved.

Another announcement by the Principal Secretary (PS) of the Ministry of Health, Moliehi Maneo Ntene, was the Ministry’s decision to lift the suspension of three doctors – Dr Mocheko Theko, Dr Thabo Mokhothu, and Dr Thapelo Ramatseka.

This she said followed a constructive meeting involving LMA representatives, the Health Minister, the Director General, and the PS on August 7, 2023.

“Their suspension has been lifted, and they are expected to resume their normal duties immediately,” the PS in a statement said.

She further noted that letters confirming the suspension withdrawal had been dispatched to their respective districts for further processing through the Office of Human Resources.

Despite this positive development, the resumption of call duties is contingent on the payment of overdue call allowances.

Dr Mojakisane Ramafikeng, President of LMA, emphasised that only five doctors out of the group have received their call allowances so far.

Ramafikeng said the rest are united in their stance to wait until all doctors have been fairly compensated before fully resuming their duties.

The Secretary General of LMA, Dr. Manethi Leponesa, also addressed the situation, notifying the public that doctors will be back to their full working hours from August 7.

However, Leponesa said, this resumption is provisional, with call duties pending only upon the satisfactory settlement of the outstanding call allowances. LMA initially announced the restriction of work during nights, weekends, and public holidays in February as a response to “years” of doctors in the public sector working extended hours without proper compensation

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