Doctors are planning to stage a massive demonstration if the government does not fulfill their demands in a period of 27 weeks starting today October 10.
The resolution was reached in a meeting held Monday at Mulago National Referral Hospital, which was organized by Uganda Medical Association (UMA), a body that unites medical doctors across the country.
Speaking to ChimpReports in a phone interview, Ekwaro Obuk, the President UMA, described the meeting as “historic”, stating that “the nationwide industrial action (strike)” will kick off on November 6, 2017.
If their demands are not met, he said, “We shall give them more 2 weeks and lay down our tools thereafter. No more reporting to clinics.”
The looming strike comes against a backdrop of many other demonstrations by medical workers, including interns over a number of reasons; from unsatisfactory payments to lamentable working conditions.
And the government has hitherto failed to reach a mutual agreement with medical workers, much less address their problems.
The issue has led to increased brain drain of doctors as they seek for “greener pastures” abroad, a thing medical workers believe can be controlled.
While presenting a petition to speaker of parliament, Rebbeca Kadaga in July 2016, Dr Fred Biiso, then UMA president, opined that although Uganda may not have the capacity to address all the push factors that cause doctors to fly and work in foreign countries, it can handle some like allowances.
“Our health workers are not motivated. They are overworked and most times burn out. This translates into poor quality service and the person who bears the brunt of poor quality service is the consumer, the ordinary Ugandan,” he said.
“Kindly facilitate us so that we can render the service the ordinary Ugandan badly needs. These patriotic Ugandans have sacrificed opportunities to work outside Uganda but they have decided to serve the motherland.”
What UMA President says
According to Obuk, medical workers are protesting among many causes against “a sheer lack of drugs and medical supplies” to “enable us work.”
He adds, “Patients are dying while we are seeing.”
To stop that, doctors are calling on the government to give them “a supplementary budget”.
On the issue of remuneration, he says they need a top earning doctor, who is a senior consultant to be paid Shs35m in salary and Shs13m in allowances, which makes it Shs48m.
At the moment, according to the president, senior consultants earn Shs3.5 million.
The consultants, medics say, should also be given a 5 bedroom house, a 4.0cc vehicle and two servants.
Asked on the need for allowance monies, Obuk said, “They are meant to cater for risks such as when a doctor is subjected to treat potentially precarious diseases like Ebola, public holidays and overtime schedules among others.”
The lowest paid; who is a medical officer, if the demands are agreed on will be earning Shs8.5m plus allowances of Shs5.5m.
Doctors have a SACCO (Saving and Credit Cooperative), but Obuk says the government has not given it funds, and basing on that they “want government to capitalize their project with Shs100bn.”
Doctors are also asking the government to reduce their loan rates to about 3 to 5 percent.
Obuks also noted that medics want the government to “buy them tax neutral cars and allow them purchase some items at a tax neutral policy.”
A neutral tax is one that does not create incentives for firms or individuals to change their behavior—to invest more or less, to work more or less, to locate in one place rather than another, to employ more or less labor or more or less capital.
Besides the above, according to Obuk, medical workers are also unhappy with the continued arrests of medical personnel by officials from the Health Monitoring Unit of State House, which he termed as “war on doctors.”
Establish in 2009, HMU was intended to bringing to book drug thieves and unscrupulous public officials.
But Obuk says some of the medical workers have “been unfairly imprisioned”, leading to “increased loss of medical workers.”
He therefore says, “We want the institution to be shut down and the operation put under the Ministry of Health”, since they are “basically harassing doctors.”