Medical interns go on strike today over salary

Medical interns kneel in the middle of a road in Kampala during their protest in December 2021. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Ms Prossy Nakyanzi, the speaker of Intern Pharmacists of Uganda, said the ministry has not honoured the President’s directive regarding their pay.

Medical interns in government hospitals have vowed to go on strike today over delayed payment, salary disparities, and other welfare issues.

However, the Health ministry has asked them to desist from striking at a time when the country is grappling with Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), saying their issues are being addressed.

More than 1,000 interns, including doctors, pharmacies, and nurses are frontline health workers in many facilities, partly due to insufficient government-employed staff.

Addressing journalists in Kampala yesterday, Ms Prossy Nakyanzi, the speaker of Intern Pharmacists of Uganda, said the ministry has not honoured the President’s directive regarding their pay.

“The medical interns were supposed to be paid half of their seniors’ salary. A senior pharmacist, doctor and dental surgeon receives Shs5 million and so, all of us in that carder were supposed to receive Shs2.5m,”  Ms Nakyanzi said.

“The nurses receive Shs4.8m, meaning the intern in that category was supposed to receive Shs2.4m, but to our dismay, the intern doctors and dentists earn Shs2.5m, we are getting Shs2m without explanation and the nurses were given Shs5m,” she added.

Salary arrears

The health workers also said they have not been paid for the last three months (July, August, and September) yet many are neither accommodated nor get food in the hospitals.

This, they said, is made worse with a limited supply of personal protective equipment in some facilities amid Ebola, which has killed 53 people, including at least one medical intern.

Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, the spokesperson of the Health ministry, told this publication yesterday that the interns’ grievances are being addressed, adding that they have already released the payment to their respective hospitals.

“We expect a number of them to start receiving their allowances by tomorrow [today]. Other issues such as discrepancies in their enhanced allowances is something the government will look at when resources are available,” he said.

Mr Ainebyoona attributed the delayed payment of the previous allowances on bureaucracy.  “There are procedures that funds go through. The funds come [from the Finance Ministry], then are supposed to be warranted, hospitals have to send names of people on duty,” he said.

“There was a rotation of interns, which made some of them move to new hospitals, so we had to wait for hospitals to send the names of the interns but now that process has been concluded,” the Health spokesperson added. 

Mr Ainebyoona urged interns to put patients and their profession first.
“This is not the right time for them to start talking of going on strike yet we are faced with an Ebola outbreak,” he added. 

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