Doctors categorized as medical officers special grade or Associate Consultants announced on Tuesday that they have joined ongoing industrial action in which Senior House Officers had laid down tools over non-payment of their salaries.
The doctors told a press Conference held in Mulago this morning that their strike would start at 11 pm. Dr Joy Kimera, a Pediatrician who spoke on their behalf says while associate consultants supervise interns in hospitals, their salaries were not enhanced and there’s no clear process through which one gets promoted to the position.
Worse, he says while they are still earning a basic salary of an entry-level doctor of 5.4 million Shillings, senior consultants who own the same qualifications as there’s earn double.
The doctor says they had presented their grievances to the government through the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) but despite several meetings with officials in the Ministry of Health and Parliament of Uganda, nothing has yielded yet. They decided to lay down tools until they are heard.
But Information Minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi says striking will not offer them the money they need. Baryomunsi says they don’t expect any grievance related to salary enhancement now considering that the government has just enhanced salaries for doctors right from medical interns.
The striking doctors are joining another group of Senior House Officers, a level of those training to attain their master’s degrees who laid down tools last month grieving that the government had not paid them allowances for more than four months.
According to Dr Herbert Luswata the General Secretary of the Uganda Medical Association, the Seniors House Officer have not received anything yet parliament had indicated to them that the money was approved in the budget for the Financial Year 2022-2023.
“There was a promise from Parliament to follow up and find out why the continuing and the first-year Senior House Officers are not getting their allowances, unfortunately. Up to today, the first-year Senior House Officers have never received any allowance from the government and this is now coming to a full year,” he said.
Dr Luswata added that some of the first-year Senior House Officers are now considering dropping out of medical school because they have failed to pay rent and some cannot even afford a meal. As all this happens, medical interns who were supposed to have been deployed for training at the beginning of April have also not yet been sent to the various training hospitals across the country.
Baryomunsi says issues of medical interns will be discussed during a cabinet meeting scheduled for next week. He however indicates government is still debating whether or not to scrap payment of doctors who are still in training considering the growing numbers of medical trainees.
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