November 3, 2023 -Suriname Health Minister Amar Ramadhin says he is surprised that medical doctors associated with the Association of Regional Health Service Doctors (VRA) have initiated a strike over salary increases and the late payment for their services.
Emergency services as the last resort
The striking doctors have taken a firm stance, deciding to limit their services to only emergency cases. This measure underlines their frustration with the persistent delays in payment from the State Health Insurance Fund (SZF).
With financial pressures mounting, the physicians have expressed their dissatisfaction and the difficulty these delays cause in fulfilling their own financial responsibilities.
The ultimatum and the government’s stance
Amidst growing pressure, the doctors have demanded the release of their overdue October salaries by midnight on Friday.
Failure to comply, they warn, will lead to intensified strike actions.
However, health Minister Amar Ramadhin has rejected the doctors’ demands for a 150 per cent salary hike as unrealistic and unfeasible.
Ramadhin maintains that the demands made by the VRA are not tenable, emphasizing that it is the Regional Health Service (RGD) that should be intervening, not his office.
Despite the deadlock, Ramadhin insists that since negotiations are still in progress, the VRA has no grounds to embark on a strike, a view supported by other officials in the public health sector.
Negotiations vs. action: A delicate balance
The public health administrator has echoed the minister’s sentiment, pointing to the ongoing negotiations as a reason the VRA should abstain from any strike action.
The administration appears to be holding firm to the process, emphasizing dialogue over disruption, even as the medical practitioners signal their readiness to escalate their protest in the absence of a swift resolution.