The Minister for Health Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng says interns are not public servants and therefore are free to quit and forfeit being registered as Medical Doctors if they can’t wait for government to fulfil its promises.
Dr. Aceng’s comments come as more health workers join the industrial action that has lasted more than five weeks.
She was speaking on the sidelines of the accelerated Covid19 vaccination campaign in Western Uganda.
Daily Monitor reports that Senior House Officers (specialising doctors) from Makerere and Mbarara University of Science and Technology (MUST) have resolved to join the strike by doctors and medical interns until government fulfils its pledges to them.
In a December 13 statement, Asaph Owamukama, the Senoir House Officer representative to the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), said: “The issues that have been repeatedly raised by Uganda Medical Association including inadequate medical supplies and equipment, underprivileged working conditions as well as poor remuneration are bonafide and affect us as well.”
“This is, therefore, to bring to your attention that Senior House Officers will be joining the strike effective December 15 and will continue to abide by directives from UMA,” Owamukama added.
Owamukama, however, said they will only handle emergencies at Mulago, Kawempe, and Kiruddu hospitals as guided by UMA.
This comes three days after the Ministry of Health fired all the striking medical interns and ordered them to leave government hospital premises within the week to pave way for new entrants slated to join in January 2022.
Aceng, said government is yet to come out with a final plan on what it intends to do.
“Senior doctors who want to join the strike are free to do so because it is their decision. Those who feel like they should work, let them continue working. Government will also come out with its plans,” Dr Aceng said yesterday while launching a mass vaccination campaign in Mbarara District.
Aceng asked the interns, who are “remorseful”, to return to their workstations and complete their training because the government will pay them in a week.
“We must take note that internship is a training period. It is not work and these interns are not public servants. They are free to make any decision not to train because they are the ones to lose, not us. My advice to them is that they should stop misbehaving and let the government fulfil its pledge,” Aceng said.
“The process for their supplementary budget was completed and their money will be ready in one week and the money will be on their account,” Dr Aceng added.
President Museveni had promised that the salary of medical officers will be increased to Shs5 million, senior medical consultants (Shs17m), and intern doctors (Shs2.5m).
Intern doctors currently earn Shs750, 000, entry-level doctors (Shs3m) and consultants (Shs7.3m).ntv