Striking medical interns reject govt payment offer

Mr Kenneth Ssebabi Kakooza, a lawyer (centre), with some of the intern doctors at the High Court in Kampala. PHOTO | ABUBAKER LUBOWA

What you need to know:

  • The medical interns’ strike which started on November 8, has devastated health services as they are the frontline workers in many hospitals. 

Striking medical interns yesterday rejected government’s Shs1.5m offer and vowed to carry on with the strike until its revised upwards.

The head of medical interns, Dr Lilian Nabwire, told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday that they want the allowances increased to Shs2.4m as per the request of the graduate nurses.

“We expected the intern nurses to be given Shs2.4m but the ministry of Health communicated Shs1.5m. So, we need to find out how they arrived at this figure and follow up for it to be corrected so that the incoming interns can also get the right payment,” she said.

The medical interns include doctors, pharmacies and nurses who have already graduated but need to undergo a one-year training in hospitals to get practising licenses from their respective councils.

The current interns are left with two months to complete the training.

The development comes four days after the Information Minister, Dr Chris Baryomunsi, announced in a meeting with leaders of Uganda Medical Association and Federation for Uganda Medical Interns (FUMI), that the medical interns agreed to resume work yesterday.

But Dr Nabwire said the same day that the date was tentative and subject to a meeting with members of FUMI.

“Our members met today [yesterday] morning and they agreed that we should wait until the issues of colleagues, the nurses are sorted,” she said.

The medical interns’ strike which started on November 8, has devastated health services as they are the frontline workers in many hospitals. 

Dr Baryomunsi, in a December 17 letter to Uganda Medical Association, said funds for the interns have been availed by the government.

He said in the December 10 letter from the Director General of Health services requiring medical interns to vacate hospital premises in one week was also withdrawn.

“The [Friday] meeting agreed and confirmed that funds for payment of interns allowances will be transferred to the accounts of the internship training centres from December 20,” Dr Baryomunsi said in the letter.

“Enhanced internship allowances (intern medical doctors Shs2.5m,  pharmacists Shs2m, and [graduate] nurses/midwives 1.5m per month) inclusive of arrears will be paid to all eligible medical interns with effect from July 1 to November 6 when they went on strike,” the letter reads further.

This is the same amount the President had earlier directed the Finance ministry to pay interns. Senior house officers, and doctors who are training in hospitals as they study to become specialists, will also be paid Shs2.5m.

However, those who stayed on duty shall be paid up to the end of December, 2021 and going forward these will be the monthly rates, according to the letter.