It was expected that starting this year, working hours will be reduced from nine to eight, per day, to improve workplace productivity and family well-being.
But this is not the case for medical personnel who will have to start work at the usual time, 7 am.
According to a statement released by the Ministry of Health, on December 31, the move aims to ensure that the public has access to essential health services.
However, some medical practitioners are against the move and are insisting on benefiting from changes in working hours too. They argue that they also have families to take care of, among other reasons.
A health practitioner at Kigali University Teaching Hospital (CHUK) who preferred anonymity told The New Times that the Ministry can do better in ensuring their well-being. With good planning, he said, it is possible.
“We also need those eight hours and, I am sure it is possible. It can be done. We also have children to take to school and families to look after as well as other activities to do in our homes, among other things,” he said.
In addition, he urged the Ministry to revise the working schedule and come up with one that can facilitate medical personnel as well or at least value their work in terms of income and welfare based on the current cost of living.
Other practitioners, and non-practitioners, also expressed concerns on social media platforms, especially Twitter.
Dr. Joseph Nkurunziza, a civil society expert and public health practitioner tweeted: “Why would some be excluded from a change that most will benefit from?”
According to Nkurunziza, essential workers are also parents. He indicated that every other reason that led the cabinet to adopt the change should apply to all.
“We are all equal.”
Nkurunziza pointed out that institutions should plan better, arguing that no one should be left aside especially when it comes to changes they can benefit from as every other workers.
Grace Kansayisa, a surgeon at CHUK, noted that it – new announcement on working hours in health facilities – is “sad and disappointing.”
“Healthcare professionals have family needs that need to be incorporated into their lives. We truly love our jobs, but joint team efforts are needed to decrease the burnout,” she twitted.
Kansayisa then pointed out that some key points can be addressed and both parties can be satisfied.
She suggested that daily shifts can start from 9 am to 7 pm, then 7 pm-9 am (or 8:30 am-7 pm and 7 pm-8:30 am) or overtime be compensated by increasing salary, or paying overtime or increase annual leave to compensate overtime shifts, maybe roughly give 45-50 days instead of the usual 30.
Prof Faustin Ntirenganya, a surgeon, tweeted advising the ministry of health to continue consultations.
“Keep consulting.Don’t forget to consult the concerned health professionals. It is always good to find a “just milieu”. We need to keep the balance: Dedication to patients vs dedication to families and children.”
He added that health professional have children to take to schools too.
By press time, the Ministry of Health had not yet responded to The New Times’ inquiries on the way forward.
But while responding to concerns already raised on social media, through their official Twitter account, the Ministry promised to consult on improving health personnel’s working conditions.
“We thank you all for the feedback. The government fully appreciates the commitment and hard work of health personnel. We continue to consult on ever-better working conditions and more effective services for patients in this coming year,” the Ministry tweeted.