Medical workers threaten to strike on May 1 

The president of UMA, Dr Samuel Odong Oledo

What you need to know:

The government health facilities have 57,207 health workers, who are less than the required 76,948, according to 2020/2021 Health Sector Performance Report

Medical workers have given the government an ultimatum of 20 days to raise their salary to the level President Museveni directed, absorb their terminated colleagues and clear the arrears.
 The government health facilities have 57,207 health workers, who are less than the required 76,948, according to 2020/2021 Health Sector Performance Report.
Dr Samuel Oledo, the president of Uganda Medical Association (UMA), told journalists yesterday in Kampala that they will go on strike on May 1 if the government fails to address their issues.

 The medical workers called off their strike on December 22, 2021, saying the government had already addressed some of their grievances and had demonstrated willingness to solve pending issues before May 2022.
 However, while speaking yesterday, Dr Oledo said they are now considering industrial action because the Ministry of Health has failed to do what is required of them to address issues of medical workers, a remark that the ministry has refuted. 
“We thank the President for providing the Shs2.5m in allowances for the senior house officers and medical interns. We appreciate the Shs5 million for medical officers that have been stated in the salary structure, which was released by the Public Service ministry in line with the presidential directives,” he said.

The difference
 Dr Oledo, however, said the increments reflected for the medical officer special grade (specialist) level up to the senior consultants are not in line with the presidential directive, which ordered a minimum of Shs5 million for the entry-level medical officer and a salary of 20 million per month for a senior consultant.

 A copy of the document from the Ministry of Public Service which this newspaper saw, shows that senior consultants that are currently earning Shs7.3m per month will get Shs8.7m per month come next financial year, which falls short of the UMA expectation.
Consultants are getting Shs6m but they will get Shs7.5m next financial year, medical officers (special grade) are getting Shs4.5m and will get Shs5.2m per month come next financial year. Senior medical officers, who are currently getting Shs3.3m, will get Shs5.1m per month, while medical officers, dental surgeons, and pharmacists, who are currently paid Shs3m, will start getting Shs5m come next financial year.

 Nursing, theatre, lab, mortuary and dental assistants, who are currently paid Shs313,832 per month, will be getting Shs330,000 per month in the next financial, which UMA said is less than Shs2m expected.  The diploma holders and other health cadres were not clearly captured in the document.
 “We call upon the Speaker of Parliament, [Ms Anita Among] to allocate health with a priority. You can’t have productivity when health is crumbling. We lose more than $85m annually in medical tourism, what about the citizens who cannot or don’t have that privilege?” Dr Oledo wondered.

 Dr Herbert Luswata, the UMA secretary-general, said giving a medical officer Shs5m and giving a senior medical officer Shs5.1m is unthinkable because the latter has higher qualifications.
UMA is also asking the government to recruit medical officers up to the level of Health centre III, reduction on Pay As You Earn from 30 percent to 10 percent for medical doctors, provide vehicles for senior consultants and offer tax-free vehicles for medical doctors.
Fired health workers
Ms Bonietor Amanya, a nursing officer at Mulago Hospital who is the national mobiliser for the more than 700 health workers that the Ministry of Health has terminated, castigated the Health minister, saying her remarks about retaining critical staff is wrong and disrespectful to medical workers. 

 “By the time of termination, we were demanding 6 months’ pay, others four months’ pay. After the termination, they paid four months and people who joined Covid-19 treatment units in January said they have not got even a single month,” she added.
But Ms Anifa Kawooya, the State minister of Health-in-charge of general duties, called for patience from the health workers, saying they are increasing efforts to address grievances.
 “The salary structures were proposed, and when you propose something, you have to look within the budget and see how to deal with the proposal. This salary enhancement is not a one-time [thing]. It is a progressive and continues [one],” she said.

 “The salary increment will be captured according to our resource budget. If we had the money, we would be giving it to them at once. It is true that the salaries which reach the expectation over time. I think they are not being patient. They have to wait and see what is going to happen,” she added.