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FORGET ABOUT SALARY INCREMENT! Museveni Government Sends Clear Message to Striking Doctors

Museveni, health minister Dr Jane Ruth Aceng and Public Service's Muruli Mukasa

President Yoweri Kaguta Tibuhaburwa Museveni’s government has made it clear that it will not increase salaries for medical officers special grade, also referred to as associate consultant doctors, as well as Senior House Officers (SHOs) who have laid down their tools over pay-related grievances.

Last month, SHOs, who are basically doctors upgrading to master’s level, began their strike, complaining that government, through the Ministry of Health, had failed to pay their allowances for a little over four months

The SHOs insisted that Parliament had assured them that money for their allowances had been included in the budget for the current financial year (FY2022-2023). They say that their first year counterparts are yet to get any coin, meaning that for about a year now, they have had to struggle to survive. A number of these SHOs have families they are taking care of on top of other personal obligations and needs such as rent and food. This has left most of them with no option but to consider dropping out of master’s courses.

As government was still mute on the fate of the SHOs, medical officers special grade or associate consultant doctors also announced the start of their industrial action on Tuesday, May 09, 2023. These health workers are, among other roles, responsible for supervising interns.

Their complaint is that their salaries have not been increased as was the case for other health workers when scientists had their pay raised. One of their leaders, Pediatrician Dr Joy Kimera said government has kept paying them Shs5.4m monthly, a salary that is paid to entry level doctors.

Associate consultant doctors say they are at the level of senior consultants by virtue of their qualifications and should be paid as much as all senior consultants who take home twice the amount given to entry-level doctors.

They say their voices have been ignored and have sworn not to return to work until their salaries have been enhanced.

But Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of Information and National Guidance, says that the Museveni government is at the moment preoccupied with the issue of striking pre-intern doctors who were supposed to be deployed by April 2023 but haven’t been since government keeps arguing that they are so many and there is no money to pay them.

FORGET ABOUT SALARY INCREMENT! Museveni Government Sends Clear Message to Striking Doctors
Minister Baryomunsi

“So the issue of salary enhancement, we don’t expect it now to be a concern from the doctors. Their concern has been when they are starting internship. The issue has been provision of the budget to enable the interns to start,” said Dr Baryomunsi.

Cabinet will discuss the issue of intern doctors’ deployment next week. Ministers will discuss several proposals on how to move forward.

“Should government continue paying those going to do internship, both those who have been in public universities and those from private universities or not? Because currently, we pay them. The universities have expanded and are many, should we subject interns to an examination before they start internship or an exit examination? All these issues are being debated and a policy being drafted by the Ministry of Health and we shall discuss it as cabinet and as government and see how to manage interns.”

It should be remembered that starting this financial year, government increased salaries of all scientists, including several categories of health workers and teachers of science subjects in secondary schools. (See How Much Each Employee Category is Currently Earning Monthly HERE).

You can also see the list of Uganda’s most highly paid government employees Here.

Meanwhile, a recent online health exhibition revealed the shocking pain and trouble patients in government hospitals go through whenever doctors and other health workers go on strike. For example, a former intern doctor revealed that many patients died in one night as she had to decide on who should live and who should die and made avoidable mistakes because she was overwhelmed by the numbers. (See Details Here).

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