Ugandan medical workers threaten strike


Medical workers in Uganda have put government on notice that within 90 days starting Aug. 13, they will lay down their tools to protest poor remuneration and working conditions.

The workers, through their umbrella organization, Uganda Medical Association (UMA), in a notice to government on Aug. 6 said that 3,000 medical workers had contracted COVID-19 since March last year, of whom, 50 had died due to COVID-19.

The association said the high infection rate is due to lack of personal protective equipment which is critical in high risk areas like hospitals.

“To date, none of these medical professionals who died from COVID-19 has been compensated. Their families and dependents are suffering from hunger and some have been threatened with eviction from government houses,” the association said.

The health workers said there is no life or medical insurance cover to care for those frontline medics who fall ill, particularly in the line of duty. “The majority has been left to care for themselves and accumulated catastrophic health expenditures in ICUs (Intensive Care Units).”

UMA said their members are overwhelmed with work and yet there are many vacancies in the health sector that need to be filled. The association estimates that at least 1,113 doctors are unemployed.

“The actual estimated figure will be over 1,900 unemployed medical doctors when the intern doctors complete internship and are released in October 2021,” said UMA.

The medical workers demand that government passes supplementary budget to buy more protective equipment, raise their salaries, pay risk allowances to frontline workers and compensate those who died of COVID-19 in the line of duty.

Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health, told Xinhua by telephone that the ministry is working with other line ministries to address all the issues raised by the association.

“This has been a continuous discussion. Things like budgets for medical supplies and drugs have since been enhanced although that is not being acknowledged by the medical association,” Ainebyoona said. “Some things have been gradually improving and government continues to review their working environment.” Enditem

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