UMA President on strike

It’s just a few hours into a sit down strike announced by medical personnel under their umbrella body, Uganda Medical Association (UMA) and patients in public health facilities are already feeling the pinch.

Close to 2000 public health workers nationwide decided to lay down their tools on Monday in protest of the government’s failure to fulfill its promises to improve on their welfare.Among them include doctors, nurses, midwives, consultants, medical interns among others.

According to the UMA President , Dr. Samuel Odongo Oledo, the strike that started today at midnight will go on until the government reacts positively to the plight of the medical personnel.

He says the strike pertains to delayed salary increment , poor working conditions of medical personnel, shortage of medical supplies and technologies such as Personal Protection Gears,Intensive Care machines among others. 

As of this morning, public hospitals that our reporters visited like Mulago National Referral hospital and its affiliates in Kawempe and Kiruudu remain scanty and isolated with limited medical personnel available to attend to patients.

UMA President on strike

By 7am this morning patients and caretakers could be seen stranded at the hospital with no one to attend to them.

Dr Oledo says the strike is not only restricted to the needs of medical practitioners but also the general public that seeks medical care from government facilities.

“It is how the government looks at the people,there is a lack of drugs and technology,imagine in an era of Covid 19 ,we should have drugs and ICU fully functional at health centers but even Mulago with some referrals attached lack ICUs’,what priority has the government had in relation to the health of Ugandans.If we have classified expenditure with defence ,we should have the same with health,this is not a doctors fight,it is a Uganda matter. “he said

Dr Oledo was however quick to add that the medical body has delegated a handful of health workers to handle emergency situations at hospitals.He says this is in line with world medical guidelines on industrial action.

“We have an emergency plan cover because in all this we must obey the standard operating procedures on set guidelines for industrial action.One of the guidelines is to cover emergencies so for Covid 19 patients and other emergencies like operations ,baby deliveries ,we have a skeleton staff in place .We will not handle OPD patients.So if you have an illness that is not an emergency,don’t go to hospital.”He emphasized

The strike by UMA comes barely two weeks after the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns -FUMI announced a strike.

According to UMA ,Uganda produces more than 500 medical doctors annually and other 150 medical specialists in the various Medical Schools..  

They say more than 1,100 doctors remain unemployed yet funds meant to pay for salaries are returned to the Treasury due to the posts being vacant yet the specialists to fill those posts are there.

On September, 30th 2019, the President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni directed the Public Service Ministry to increase allowances and salaries of scientists, University lecturers and health workers from 12 billion shillings to 35 billion shillings per financial year.    

Compiled by Rashidah Nakaayi