Doctors under their umbrella body, Uganda Medical Association (UMA) have threatened to lay down tools starting next week November 22.
The doctors want the government to fill more than 40 per cent of the vacant posts in public health facilities, increase the pay for intern doctors to Shs 2.1 million as directed by President Museveni, compensate the families of health workers who succumbed to COVID-19 and provide medical supplies like oxygen in health facilities. The doctors also want government to include medical interns in the public service salary structure.
The strike was initially meant to start on November 6, but the new management of the Uganda Medical Association says it was postponed for better planning purposes. The doctors in August this year issued a notice to the government informing them that they would go on strike on November 6 if their demands were not met.
According to UMA public relations officer, Dr Andrew Twineamatsiko, the new industrial action date was agreed upon by the new management.
“We held a meeting to discuss the strategies and road map for the much needed industrial action whose goal is to better the health system of Uganda. We agreed that at exactly 00:01 hours of November 22, the strike would start,” he said.
Dr Herbert Luswata, the secretary general of UMA says the strike was delayed due to managerial issues. He says they had to push it forward because the old leadership hadn’t handed over to the new leadership.
The doctors issued government notice of industrial action in August and since then members of the old leadership executive have met with officials from the ministries of Health, Finance and even the Prime Minister’s office but no position was reached.
The old UMA leadership led by Dr Richard Idro had expected the government to present a statement addressing their demands two weeks ago during the Grande Doctors Conference but none of the invited top officials at the ministry of Health like the permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine showed up.
Ministry of Health spokesperson, Emmanuel Ainebyoona urged the doctors to be patient since a supplementary budget was before parliament to address their exact needs.
With just three days left to the start of the industrial action, it remains to be seen whether government will respond to their demands and avoid the effects such a strike might have on the country’s health system amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing medical interns strike.