Uganda, Kampala- Uganda is headed for a major strike by doctors unless government addresses their demands within the next 30 days. The doctors met on Monday under their umbrella body, Uganda Medical Association-UMA and gave the government a 30 day’s notice to address their demands or else they lay down their tools.
They unanimously resolved to strike on November 6th should government fail to give them a pay rise, increase the duty allowances of all health professionals, review the supply chain and management of medicines, vaccines and medical supplies and as well as disband the “State House Health Monitoring Unit.”
Dr. Ekwaro Obuku, the President of Uganda Medical Association, says there has been chronic shortage of medicines, vaccines and medical supplies in all hospitals in the country in the past 6 months, which has caused preventable and unnecessary deaths of Ugandans.
He also accused Resident District Commissioners and the State House Health Monitoring Unit of waging a war characterised with impunity and extra judicial practices against health practitioners. On their demand for a pay rise, Dr. Okwaro said they have repeatedly petitioned government, which has turned a deaf ear to their demands.
Currently, a senior medical consultant or anyone in the rank of a professor is the highest paid medical worker in Uganda. A senior medical consultant or professor earns Uganda Shillings 3.4 million and allowances amounting to Uganda Shillings 477, 500. While an intern medical doctor at the rank of junior house officer is the lowest paid officer as they earn Uganda Shillings 960,000 as basic salary.
However, Uganda Medical Association wants the pay of a senior consultant increased to Uganda Shillings 35.4 million and allowances to Uganda Shillings 9.8 million, which would bring their pay to Uganda Shillings 45.2 million each month.
They also want the pay of an intern or junior house officer increased to Uganda Shillings 8.5 million. The doctors also want houses, vehicles, and other benefits such as loans at not more than 5% interest rate as well as tax free house construction materials.
“If government can find money to facilitate the presidential age limit consultations, purchase teargas, bullets and patrol vehicles, it should find money to buy medicine and increase our pay,” said Dr. Ekwaro Obuku, the President Uganda Medical Association.
Prof. Francis Omaswa, the chairman of Uganda Medical Association Elders Forum has asked the doctors to be ready for constructive engagement with government. Uganda Medical Association-UMA brings together over 6000 medical doctors both in private and public health facilities.