Rabat – At least 13 doctors and pharmacists employed at the Souissi University Hospital in Rabat have not been paid their wages for over a year, according to Moroccan news outlet Hespress.
Speaking to the Moroccan media, the 13 doctors explained that they started working at the Souissi University Hospital in early 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic hit Morocco. The emergence of the pandemic prevented the hospital from integrating their financial positions in the ministry’s sub-budget for 2020.
While the doctors were understanding of the stress on Morocco’s healthcare capacity, they were surprised to learn that other doctors who joined the hospital in the summer of 2020 got paid by the Ministry of Health by November of the same year.
One of the doctors said, “At first we understood why the ministry withdrew the financial positions allocated to us in its budget, but when it recruited other colleagues and got their salaries, while we are still waiting for our wages, this raises question marks.”
The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already existing problems in the Moroccan healthcare system. Morocco’s Competition Council recently described the country’s pharmaceutical market as “fragmented and inconsistent” and based on “inadequate and sometimes outdated legal framework.”
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In a statement in response to Hespress’ report, a source close to the Ministry of Health indicated that the doctors have not yet received a clear answer about when they will get paid.
Due to the slow administrative procedures that delayed their wages, some of the doctors have been unable to pay their rent or travel to work at the hospital.
A December 2020 report by Morocco’s High Commission for Planning (HCP) and UNICEF found that 47.1% of Moroccan children aged 6 to 7 could not access medical services during Morocco’s COVID-19 lockdown period.
Many Moroccan households had to prioritize basic necessities (food, for example) over healthcare requirements, according to the report.
Reacting to authorities’ silence on the ordeal of their thirteen unpaid colleagues, the Association of Inpatient and Resident Pharmacists in Rabat urged the Ministry of Health to quickly resolve the situation of health workers left without their wages.
The group said: “This raises a question: Is there favoritism? Or is it contempt for pharmacists?”