Govt to doctors: Striking will not bring you any money
Government has told striking health workers that laying down tools will not bring them the money that they claim they need.
ICT and National Guidance minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi says in fact, as government, they don’t expect any grievances related to salary enhancement in the near future considering that the government has just enhanced salaries for health workers right from medical interns to senior medical officers.
Doctors categorized as medical officers special grade or associate consultants announced today Tuesday that they have joined an ongoing industrial action in which senior house officers (SHOs) laid down tools over non-payment of their salaries.
“So the issue of salary enhancement, we don’t expect it now to be a concern from the doctors. Their concern has been when are they starting internship. The issue has been provision of the budget to enable the interns to start. First of all, I think we need to improve communication between government and all these government workers. There was no need for the interns for instance to go on a demonstration when for instance they could engage either the ministry of Health or or any of us in government to give them the position and to give them the information which is obtaining…because demonstrating, yes, you can make your point but that will not translate into money released for you to start,” said Baryomunsi.
The doctors told a press conference held in Mulago that their strike will start at 11 pm today. Dr Joy Kimera, a paediatrician who spoke on their behalf said while associate consultants supervise interns in hospitals, their salaries were not enhanced and there’s no clear process through which one gets promoted to the position.
Worse still, he said while they are still earning a basic salary of an entry-level doctor of Shs 5.4 million, senior consultants who own the same qualifications as them earn double.
Kimera says they had presented their grievances to the government through the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) but despite several meetings with officials from the ministry of Health and parliament, nothing has yielded yet, and hence decided to lay down tools until they get heard.
The striking doctors are joining another group of SHOs training to attain their master’s degrees who laid down tools last month grieving that the government had not paid them allowances for more than four months.
According to Dr Herbert Luswata, general secretary of the Uganda Medical Association, SHOs have not received anything yet parliament had indicated to them that the money was approved in the budget for the FY 2022/23.
“There was a promise from parliament to follow up and find out why the continuing and the first-year senior house officers are not getting their allowances, unfortunately. Up to today, the first-year senior house officers have never received any allowance from the government and this is now coming to a full year,” he said.
Luswata added that some of the first-year SHOs are now considering dropping out of medical school because they have failed to pay rent and some cannot even afford to feed themselves. As all this happens, medical interns who were supposed to have been deployed for training at the beginning of April have also not yet been sent out to the various training hospitals across the country.
Baryomunsi says issues of medical interns will be discussed during a cabinet meeting scheduled for next week. He however indicates government is still debating whether or not to scrap payment of doctors who are still in training considering the growing numbers of medical trainees.
“Should government continue paying those going to do internship, both those who have been in public universities and those from private universities or not? Because currently, we pay them. The universities have expanded and are many, should we subject interns to an examination before they start internship or an exit examination? All these issues are being debated and a policy being drafted by the ministry of Health and we shall discuss it as cabinet and as government and see how to manage interns,” said Baryomunsi.