A day after the doctors under their umbrella body, Uganda Medical Association, threatened to lay down their tools over failure to access personal protective equipment, the nurses and midwives under their umbrella organisation, Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU), have called on the government to provide them food.
Enrolled nurses and midwives earn a monthly salary of Shs600,000.
This money, according to the nurses, caters for accommodation, transport to and from work, utilities and other expenses. The nurses say this money is so little that it can barely provide for them for the whole month.
Ms Anette Birungi, the UNMU treasurer, told Daily Monitor yesterday that government should have first thought of the frontline people who are working to ensure that patients are cared for before distributing food to other people.
She said when government embarked on food distribution to the vulnerable poor, they ignored the nurses who have remained in the hospitals when others are at home following the lockdown.
“As a union, we are saying government should also consider these people and provide them with food,” Ms Birungi added.
Ms Birungi also took a swipe at the Ministry of Health, which she accused of keeping quiet when its own low cadre staff are suffering.
“I have not seen the ministry talking about the nurses and we are saying the President should, during this period, give us that little food that they are giving out so that we can be motivated,” said.
Ms Birungi further said many of her colleagues are already stressed and government should act to save the situation before it gets out of hand.
Government, however, says they are not addressing pre-existing issues that were there before the lockdown.
The Office of Prime Minister (OPM), which is responsible for the food distribution, says the food distribution is not discriminatory because all those who are got home at the time of distribution benefit from the exercise.
“The President clarified that the current distribution is for people whose daily livelihoods have been disrupted by the lockdown. We are not doing poverty alleviation programme, not issues to do with low pay because if it was that, even teachers would even ask for food, public servants would also demand for the same,” Mr Julius Mucunguzi, the OPM spokesperson, told Daily Monitor in a telephone interview yesterday.