Minister Aceng asks Mubende medics to be patient over pay

The Minister of Health, Dr Ruth Aceng (right), addresses a section of the case management teams at the Ebola treatment unit at Mubende Regional Referral Hospital on October 6. PHOTO/FILE

The Health minister, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, has asked health workers in Mubende Ebola treatment Unit, who have threatened to lay down their tools starting today over unpaid allowances, to be patient.

While addressing journalists during the second National Health Promotion and Education Conference in Munyonyo yesterday, Ms Aceng said the medics’ allowances were not paid on time because the ministry was still processing their contracts.

“We have a team of health workers who were deployed as an emergency staff in Mubende Ebola Treatment Unit (ETU) before their contracts were written and before they had learnt about their terms and conditions.

Because we had to open another ETU since the number of  Ebola cases at that time was big, they were trained quickly and deployed but since then, their contracts have been written and they will be receiving them and they will be receiving their pay,” Ms Aceng said.

She added: “I hear the cry of the workers in ETU, who are complaining that they not been paid. Let me state clearly that there is no amount of money that can pay a health worker who sacrifices to go into an ETU to give services to sick people. This risk allowance of Shs80,000 is not money. It is just to ensure that their families back home have the money to buy basic necessities because they are people who have responsibilities”.

The minister said health workers should know that strikes are not the best option for solving problems.
On the issue of Village Health Teams (VHTs), the minister said government should consider paying them a monthly allowance to enable them do their work with commitment and drive.

The minister revealed that it took government about two weeks to establish that there was an Ebola outbreak in Mubende due to a weak reporting system at the grassroot level.

She, however, said the Ministry of Health had started a new strategy to train VHTs and ensure that records are kept at parish levels.  

Dr Aceng commended the President for restricting the movement of people in the affected districts, saying Ebola cases had reduced. 

“I would like to assure Ugandans that we are making progress that has come out of partnership, collaboration and teamwork,” she said.

The minister said no new cases had been registered in the last eight days.

The Permanent Secretary in the Health ministry, Dr Diana Atwine, said promotion of good health and prevention of diseases, including malaria, diarrhoea, cholera,  malnutrition, HIV/Aids is the responsibility of everyone.

According to the Ministry of Health, about 75 percent of diseases in Uganda  are preventable.

“We must change the approach from curative to preventive,” she said.