Patients in Ugandan public hospitals might die from the lack of doctors’ attention following the medics’ decision on Monday to call for nationwide industrial action aimed at forcing government to improve their emoluments and the working conditions.
The doctors under their umbrella organization, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), laid down their tools, saying they will only attend to emergency cases, as they await government response to their demands.
The new development comes after the medics put government on notice weeks ago, demanding that a doctor be paid Shs48 million per month.
Reacting to the doctors’ demand then, the Director of Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) in the Office of the President, Dr Jackson Ojera Abusu, that UMA had no authenticity to order doctors to strike, as it is not legally recognized by central government.
“The UMA should desist from inciting its members to strike without consultation with the medical and Dental Practitioners Council. In the same vein, UMA should desist from passing off as the official body of doctors mandated by law. UMA should not over step its jurisdiction,” Abusu warned earlier on.
He added: “We would like to state categorically that while we associate with the plight of doctors and have actually been at the forefront in urging the government for better remuneration, we find some of the actions of UMA leadership as grossly misleading, frivolous and undermine public confidence in the health care sector.” Dr. Abusu also reiterated that government cannot afford to pay them the amount demanded.
Apart from the salaries issue, among others, the doctors want government to government increases supply of emergency essential medicines and supplies, recruit more health workers and equip them, give them duty allowances and allow them buy tax free cars and construction materials.
Meanwhile, last week the Uganda Medical Workers Union and the Uganda Nurses and the Midwifery Union said they would not be part of the doctors’ industrial action called over government’s failure to raise their salaries.
The Secretary-General of the Union, Aggrey Sanya, said the doctors’ decision to strike was not conducted through the right the channels.
In the same vein, the chairman of The National Organization of Trade Unions (NOTU) Usher Wilson Owere, also warned the government against dealing with associations rather than the workers’ trade union.