The rift between the Ministry of Health and Medical interns has just gotten deeper with pre-intern doctors also joining the bandwagon in a nationwide boycott.
In a recent announcement, pre- intern doctors have agreed to join forces with their striking colleagues who were halted from accessing all government hospitals on Friday last week.
Medical interns have been on strike since early last month when they laid down tools citing poor working conditions, unpaid allowances, and mediocre pay. Over 1,400 medical intern doctors went on a sit-down strike demanding that the government increase the budget for their facilitation from the current Shs 11.4 billion to Shs 35 billion in the next financial year in addition to providing decent accommodation.
However, in a letter signed by Dr. Henry Mwebesa, the Director-General of Health Services, at the Ministry of Health, the striking medical interns were given one week to vacate government hospitals and look elsewhere to finalize their internship program.
The Ministry was planning to incorporate junior medical interns to start practice in government health facilities as their seniors had only two months to conclude training.
During a meeting via Zoom technology on Sunday, pre-interns from various Universities and medical institutions countrywide resolved to boycott government hospitals unless a better decision is reached.
Dr. Lillian Nabwire, President of the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns (FUMI) says the government is not looking at the welfare of medics or improving the health system.
“All they care about is to produce this lot of medical workers and then another, but our welfare has not been looked at,” Nabwire said.
This decision comes as the Health system continues to gamble as medical workers strike. Recently, doctors under the umbrella body, Uganda Medical Association also went on strike.
The strike pertains to delayed salary increment, poor working conditions of medical personnel, shortage of medical supplies and technologies such as Personal Protection Gears, Intensive Care machines among others.
On September, 30th 2019, the President of Uganda Yoweri Kaguta Museveni directed the Public Service Ministry to increase allowances and salaries of scientists, University lecturers, and health workers from 12 billion shillings to 35 billion shillings per financial year.
In an August 9, 2021 letter, Museveni again ordered the plight of medical workers in government facilities is addressed after another meeting between the Uganda Medical Association and the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns.
“It was noted that medical interns earn a net pay of shs750,000 which is not enough to meet basic needs. Most of them are not housed and live in rented unsafe locations distant from the training hospitals and have to buy their own food yet they work 24/7 and have no time to cook. It is against this background that I recommended that all medical interns be paid half of the recommended pay of the fully appointed officers in the respective professions,” Museveni said in the letter.