The President of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) Dr. Ekwaro Obuku has said that the leadership of the body is “satisfied” by the propositions made by government to their demands. He said that the response by government so far is significant enough to prompt the lifting of the ongoing strike by doctors.
Medical doctors are in their third week of industrial action demanding salary increase, allowances for intern doctors and improved working conditions especially medical supplies.
Health services have been paralyzed across the country with the public urging for government to intervene.
Since the strike commenced, UMA leaders have been engaging the top government officials including the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, and the Minister of Finance to reach an agreement on the demands.
UMA President Dr. Obuku who spoke exclusively to SoftPower News on Wednesday morning after a meeting with State Minister for Finance, David Bahati said the discussion centred on the protection of striking doctors and the return-to-work strategy so that they are not victimized.
Dr. Obuku said government has offered solutions on all demands by doctors and that the propositions from government side are satisfactory. Although he was hesitant to divulge details, he revealed that government is considering paying the doctor at entry level Shs 5 million as monthly salary.
“There’s a way forward suggested by government. All the matters have been handled and solutions have been proposed by government.”
“We are following the directive of President which he has repeated twice over the last two years. In October 2016, he mentioned it at State House, it was minuted but not followed up.”
“This year in October when he met us, he repeated again that the entry doctor will be earning Shs 5 million beginning next financial year,” Obuku disclosed to SoftPower News in an interview.
He said that it is a good deal for now.
“That’s what we agreed and It is a good beginning. We can start from there as we move on as the revenue of the country improves,” the UMA President noted.
Currently the lower level doctor earns Shs 1.1 million (USD 300) which Dr. Obuku says is far too low compared to the same doctor in Kenya, Rwanda and Tanzania.
He said that the propositions will be presented to the General Assembly on Saturday November 25 to make the final decision but added that “as the National Executive Committee, we feel satisfied persuaded that there is justification to suspend industrial action until such a period when we feel we should revisit the promised of government”.
Concerning the salaries for doctors at other levels, Dr. Obuku said these will be worked upwards by the Salary Review Commission.
“The task is upon the Monistry of Fimance and bureaucracts to work this out so we don’t lose doctors to other countries.”
On the issue of the medical supplies, he said government has committed to fulfil the demand to immediately seek a supplementary budget especially for the sandries (cotton, gauze and supplies for infection control).