The Minister of Health Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has declined to divulge when front-line health-workers at Kaweri Ebola Treatment Units in Mubende District who are threatening to lay down tools will be paid allowances and sign contracts.
On Wednesday, a group of over 20 health workers announced a sit down strike starting Thursday until the government clears arrears and hands them employment contracts. The health workers are responsible for treating Ebola patients at the Kaweri units, attached to Mubende Health Center IV.
Speaking on their behalf, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) Secretary General, Herbert Luswata, urged the ministry to address the plight of health workers, considering the sensitivity of the period in which the demands are coming in.
According to Luswata, the aggrieved health-workers had been referred to Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an NGO, for risk allowance payment but their efforts proved futile as the organisation denied any responsibility of payment.
Luswata says that although some health workers deployed by donors and other agencies like Infectious Diseases Institute (IDI) were paid, this particular group remained uncertain on who will pay them.
“They have worked for over a month now without being paid any risk allowance. They remained confused and wondering if they will work without payment because non of the concerned parties was willing to clear the allowance. so in a meeting on Wednesday, the group decided to lay down tolls until they get clarity on who is to pay them and when,” he said.
Luswata also states that people are working but without contracts and that UMA has for long insisted that all employed health workers get duly signed contracts with clear duties.
The Ministry of Health has however asked for patience, saying it’s working on the health workers’ issues.
Dr. Aecng explains that the Ministry first had to procure facilities for another Ebola treatment unit because cases were on the rise.
“But since then, their contracts have been written and they will receive pay. And let me stress it again, there is no amount of money that can pay a health worker who sacrifices to go into an ETU to give services to people,” Dr. Aceng says
Aceng, however, declined to reveal when contracts will be signed or daily allowances worth 80,000 shillings will be cleared.