Pay us or we go back to strike. Medical practitioners threaten industrial action.
Dr. Herbert Luswata, the Secretary General of UMA, explained that the association had made several presentations in the health committee of parliament, stressing the need for timely deployment and payment of allowances for medical interns and senior house officers.
The Uganda Medical Association (UMA) is an organization that brings together over 8,000 doctors in Uganda and the diaspora. UMA focuses on the welfare and professionalism of medical doctors and strives for the people of Uganda to have access to quality health services. However, the leadership of UMA has recently announced their plan to initiate a general strike starting from August 1st 2023, unless their demands are addressed by the government.
Dr. Herbert Luswata, the Secretary General of UMA, explained that the association had made several presentations in the health committee of parliament, stressing the need for timely deployment and payment of allowances for medical interns and senior house officers. The parliament subsequently made recommendations to allocate funds in the budget to cover these allowances, and the cabinet discussed the matter on May 15th, 2023. The Minister of Finance was directed to find the necessary funds for the allowances and ensure the deployment and payment of medical interns.
In the budget speech, the Ministry of Finance allocated 22 billion Uganda Shillings to settle the arrears for senior house officers and medical interns from April 2022 to April 2023. UMA expressed their appreciation for this allocation. Furthermore, the Minister of Finance promised to address the issue of deploying the 1901 new interns who completed their training in 2022 within a few weeks. However, according to Dr. Luswata, over a month has passed since then, and UMA has not received any confirmation or disbursement of funds from the Ministry of Finance for the deployment of the interns.
This delay has left recently graduated intern doctors, nurses, and pharmacists in a state of uncertainty and inability to practice their skills. They are unable to work or serve because they lack the necessary licenses, putting their careers and development on hold. Despite the promises made by the government, the continued non-deployment of medical interns has left UMA with no choice but to initiate a nationwide industrial action involving all medical cadres starting from August 1st, 2023. This decision was guided by the recommendation of an extra general assembly of UMA held on June 10th, 2023.
The strike aims to draw attention to the urgent need for the deployment of medical interns and the resolution of related issues. UMA emphasizes that this action is not taken lightly, as it will have a significant impact on the healthcare system and the welfare of the people of Uganda. However, without a timely response from the government, UMA feels compelled to take such measures to ensure their demands are heard and addressed.
In conclusion, the Uganda Medical Association, representing over 8,000 doctors, has announced plans for a general strike starting from August 1st, 2023. This strike is a response to the continued non-deployment of medical interns and the failure to address their demands for timely deployment and payment of allowances. UMA remains committed to the welfare of medical professionals and the provision of quality healthcare services for the people of Uganda, but feels compelled to act in the absence of a satisfactory response from the government.