Are physicians’ strikes ever morally justifiable? A call for a return to tradition

  • M Mawere

Abstract

Though physicians strike provides an opportunity to generate more knowledge about the process in which legitimacy of an organization can be restored, it meets with a great deal of resistance not only by the public but from within the medical profession. This paper critically examines the legitimacy of strike by medical doctors heretofore referred to as physicians. Though critically reflecting on strikes of physicians in general, the paper makes more emphasis on Africa where physician strikes are rampant. More importantly, the paper argues that strike implies a failure for everyone in the organization (including the strikers themselves), not only the responsible government or authority. This is because when a strike occurs, an organization/fraternity is subjected to questions, scrutiny and slander. It becomes difficult to decouple what is said, decided and done. Traditionally, all medical fraternities the world-over are committed to acting comfortably to external demands- guaranteeing the patients’ lives and public health. By paying attention to external reactions, the medical fraternity adapts and learns what ought and should be done so that it is never again caught in the same messy. At the same time, the fraternity prepares itself for the future strikes. When the fraternity and those outside consider it is doing up to the external expectations, its lost legitimacy is restored. When legitimacy is restored, external pressure like once disturbed water returns to normal.
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eISSN: 1937-8688