Kampala: Parliament’s attempts to convince medical workers in government hospitals and health centers to reconsider their industrial action have been futile with the doctors vowing to continue the strike until the government meets their demands.
Medical workers countrywide went on strike weeks ago demanding a raise in salary and health insurance with some saying they lack medical supplies and personal protection equipment in their line of duties.
While meeting the doctors under their umbrella body, Uganda Medical Association (UMA), on Wednesday, 8 December 2021, MPs on the Health Committee asked the medics to exercise patience while the government looks into their demands.
Obongi County MP, George Bhoka Didi, noted that while Parliament approved a supplementary budget to facilitate medical workers, its implementation would take a while.
“Salary increment is a genuine demand and I have been a victim of the meager pay while still in the practice. My prayer is that the doctors resume work based on the core value to save humanity and lives,” he said
Committee Vice-Chairperson, Joel Ssebikaali, reassured the doctors that the government’s commitment to ensure enhanced remuneration of medical workers is a work in progress and will eventually be implemented.
“It is a process to release the money passed in the supplementary budget. Let us exercise patience,” said Sebikali.
Bernard Kirya Sekyanzi, Budyebo County MP said that the government’s overall goal is to improve service delivery in the health sector, which according to him takes some time. “I request that you go back to work and we serve the country,” he said.
In the same Vein, Victor Nekesa, UPDF representative implored the doctors to change their attitude towards work, saying that they swore to save lives.
“While the government is working towards meeting demands of medical workers, they need to uphold their morals and continue with work,” she said.
Kenny Auma, Kwania district MP however urged legislators to ensure that the demands of the medical workers are expeditiously handled, saying that the doctors deserve better salary pay.
“Doctors are working hard under harsh conditions. They need to be motivated and those who were killed by Covid-19 while trying to save lives should be compensated,” she said.
The Chairperson Uganda Medical Association in charge of welfare, Dr. Aaron Nahabwe, said as medical workers enter day 15 of industrial action, they would not resume work until the supplementary budget is implemented.
“I work in Mulago Hospital and I buy my own masks and yet we are told that the supplementary budget was passed. We need the presidential directive implemented,” he said.
Regarding filling vacant positions in government health facilities, Nahabwe said that the minimum demand is that an advert is published by the health service commission.
The Deputy Secretary-General UMA and Secretary-General of the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns, Dr. Faith Nabushawo, said intern doctors are subjected to working long hours and they no longer receive pay.
Commenting on the interns pay, the Secretary General UMA, Dr. Herbert Luswata said they are avoiding a repeat of what happened in 2019 when a supplementary budget was passed and remuneration of interns included but to date, no money has been paid.