As the ultimatum given by medical doctors to government regarding their demands draws close, the doctors have revealed that several of the propositions made to them are yet to be realized.
It is only one week to the deadline but none of the ‘irreducible demands’ – emoluments, intern doctors’ allowances, disbandment of State House Health Monitoring Unit and SHOs’ payments has fully been dealt with.
Doctors under their umbrella body Uganda Medical Association (UMA) say that they haven’t yet received concrete documentation in regard to their salary increment. They also said that while some monies were disbursed for intern doctors for the months of November and December, some are yet to receive their allowances for the same months.
The President of the Uganda Medical Association, Dr Ekwaro Obuku told a press conference held Friday that; “We have not received any concrete documentation that there is a plan to review the salaries for doctors”.
“We wrote to the Committee on Budget, State House and also made submissions before the Parliamentary Health Committee but we haven’t got response.”
“Government should think about the consequences of not valuing human resource. If these issues are not resolved, the strike resumes on December 16,” Dr Obuku told journalists on Friday.
He told SoftPower News that all the ‘irreducible demands’ carry equal measure and that if any of them is not fulfilled by December 15, the doctors will again lay down their tools the following day.
Regarding the demand to disband the State House Health Monitoring Unit which they claim has harassed several health workers including brutal arrests, Dr Obuku said UMA handed a report on the complaints by the victimized doctors to government, but they are yet to get response.
The intern doctors maintain that the Shs 750,000 recently released by government for their allowances is still low. They want government to consider Shs 5.5 million.
“Money was released for October and November, however several sites have not received this money, especially for Tororo,” Robert Lubega, the President of the Intern Doctors said at the same press conference.
Interns also want a review of the Internship Policy which demands that medical students on government sponsorship undergo a two year bonding program in public health facilities.
“It is unfair to bond doctors yet other professions don’t subject government sponsored people to bonding. If this is to happen, let the doctors be paid the same salary as those in service in addition to incentives like Post Graduate scholarships,” Lubega said.
The issue of Senior House Officers (SHOs) also remains unresolved. Although Shs 4.2 billion was allocated, Dr Edmond Odur, the Vice Chairman for the SHOs says they haven’t received the money.
“We don’t know why there are still delays yet the verification process was done and account details provided,” he said.
Dr. Ekwaro Obuku urged all concerned officials to fast track the honoring of commitments made by government and also asked the “saboteurs” to support the Cabinet decision.
However, on a positive note, a sum of Shs 1 billion has been released towards the UMA SACCO out of the Shs 5 billion that President Yoweri Museveni pledged last year. The President has also written to the Ministry of Lands to identify 10 acres of land for the establishment of the SACCO.