Sunday January 31 2016

FDC’s manifesto offers the best for teachers and health workers

By Morris DC Komakech

After carefully scrutinising the FDC 2016 manifesto, I found quite a number of compelling ideas that needed reiterating. What is clear is that, the FDC manifesto has the most competitive offers for teachers and healthcare professionals.

Two of the most profound areas that the FDC manifesto addresses are improving the welfare of teachers and that of healthcare professionals. These two critical areas have been the Achilles heel of the NRM regime’s given the constant narrative of decay and neglect exposed by this Campaign.

First, the FDC manifesto promises to pay elementary school teachers a monthly package of Shs650,000 while their secondary school counter parts will take home Shs 1million. By the current projection of the GDP, this should be a decent amount.

The current pay scale for teachers at both primary and secondary levels is humiliating. It could take them another two decades of strikes and fierce agitation to win better pay under the current regime - close to what FDC proposes. And yet the money is there, being lavished in political patronage and self-entrenchment.

For our counterparts in health, the FDC manifesto promises a monthly take home amount of Shs650,000 for nurses. There is a variation of nurses and definitely those with degrees would get higher amounts. The plan is to develop the nursing profession upwards, to the point that we have diploma and degree holders to ably manage and provide better quality of care to patients.

This would mean helping nurses with lower qualifications to study to a higher level. For Doctors, entry level monthly package of Shs 3.5million, with special bonuses for working in rural-hard-to reach areas.

This will reverse the excessive hemorrhaging of our qualified medical professionals and doctors. Again, there are a variety of health care professionals whose emoluments will start from Shs 650,000, and more, based on levels of education and years in service.

On top of all these, the FDC manifesto is very clear on committing a significant percentage of healthcare budget to funding health research, so as to improve quality of care, management and standardise healthcare services to regional and international levels.

Committing research funding to education and gender mainstreaming programmes are the unique and attractive trait of this manifesto. At the bottom of all these, is the common notion that the NRM regime’s fanning approach to solve problems in the social services sector will destroy our social services for good.

They have deliberately refused to prioritise teachers and healthcare professionals. Instead, they fund the instruments of repression, buying teargas and coercing public servants.
In its response to low pay and poor motivation in social services sector, the NRM regime instituted the Saccos – a financial saving scheme. While this appears on the surface to be a noble idea, it actually is not.

For people who understand healthcare and education as a progressive, labour intensive and intellectually demanding field, it is obvious that Saccos is such a horrible and diversionary idea.

Arresting them and humiliating these lots for unprofessional conduct is immaterial since the root of the problem remains unsolved. Those are reactionary downstream approaches, or what we medically call “treating symptoms”.

Teachers, nurses, doctors and healthcare professionals should not be diverted into Saccos. They need to be properly enumerated and provided with tools to do their work.
Healthcare professionals should be treated in a similar respectable manner, not driven to Saccos.

I trust that Dr Besigye is better placed to revitalize these institutions, and the FDC Manifesto promises just that.

Mr Komakech is the Spokesperson for Uganda Diaspora P10, and a political analyst.