Museveni, doctors strike pay deal

President Museveni interacts with leaders of the Uganda Medical Association at State House Entebbe yesterday. PHOTO/PPU

What you need to know:

  •  The  meeting with the President was a mitigation move to end the doctors’ strike, which kicked off on Monday.

President Museveni yesterday met leaders of Uganda Medical Association (UMA) and agreed to enhance doctors’ salary in the next financial year and give each a tax-free vehicle, Daily Monitor has established.

The UMA officials told Daily Monitor that they will wait for written commitment from the President and some deliverables before calling off the ongoing strike.

The emergency meeting held at State House Entebbe, was a mitigation move to end the doctors’ strike, which kicked off on Monday, and is causing devastating effects on patients due to service delivery disruption.

Medics want the government to enhance their salary, improve the infrastructure in public health facilities such as intensive care units, ensure uninterrupted supply of medicines and personal protective equipment as well as avail more ambulances for Covid-19 case management, among others.

A statement released by State House last evening indicated that the President directed that all doctors should be employed as soon as they qualify and emphasised that the government is fully committed to providing enhanced salaries not only to medical personnel but also to all scientists.

“All the medical doctors should be employed by the government once they complete their studies. The Ministry of Health should move forward with the programme of employing more health personnel. The government is fully committed to personnel protection while they perform their duties. We have the role of providing personal protection equipment. It is logical to provide the essential medical facilities as opposed to giving out risk allowances,” he said.

The team from UMA was led by Dr Sam Oledo, the newly elected president of the association. Mr Matia Kasaija, the Finance minister, and Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, the Health minister, were also summoned by Mr Museveni to attend the meeting.

Dr Herbert Luswata, the UMA general secretary, told this newspaper on phone that the President agreed to enhance their salary in the next financial year.

“The President said he is going to increase our pay and give us the Shs5million and on that money, they will not cut the usual tax; they will only cut 10 percent as the pay as you earn (PAYE), leaving us with Shs4.5 million as take home,” he said.

He added: “For interns, they have already passed a supplementary budget and they are only waiting for the money to be wired to their accounts. The interns are waiting for the money before they call off their strike,” he said. The interns are now in the second week of their strike.

Minister’s position
Mr Kasaija, however, told our reporter in a brief interview, on phone, that all salary enhancement for doctors and interns will happen in the “next financial year.”

Dr Luswata said they are not happy with this position of enhancing their salary next year. 

“The strike is still on until we get the written directive and maybe the Shs4b debt [which the President promised to clear] and tax-free vehicles can be passed immediately. We had a debt of Shs4b in the UMA Sacco and we hope that one will come instantly,” he said.