After medical interns laying down their tools for six weeks now, Federation for Uganda Medical Interns Publication Officer, Dr. Cherey Jacob, has said that the industrial action is meant to redeem the entire public health system that is currently in a sorry state.
According to Cherey, the strike is not only meant to protest the current welfare of interns, but to improve the working conditions of medical interns, medical doctors, pharmacists, graduate nurses, midwives and dental surgeons.
“One of our main objectives is to make the Ministry of Health and Government understand how important the health sector is because as indicated by the World Health Organization, it is the backbone of any economy which can’t grow in the presence of poor health systems,” he revealed.
He went on to contend, “We want a health care system where people can access free medical attention and expertise treatment. Why should a patient be flown out to do a heart surgery when we have cardiographic surgeons in Uganda? Instead, let’s provide them with what they need and let them do their work.”
He added that the Government should equip hospitals in rural areas with facilities such that patients can be expertly treated from there without being transferred to Kampala. Dr. Cherey contended that this only needs right policies and moreover with limited resources.
Explaining the woes of intern doctors, Dr. Cherey clarified the differences between a medical intern from the other interns. He explained that medical interns are graduates from medical school, undertaking training to equip them with skills that enable them to put into practice what they studied in their specialized fields.
“As medical interns, they handle 80% of the patient care in the hospital. They work 12-hour shifts and prepare to do ward rounds with respective supervisors who usually tend to leave the work to the interns to attend to patient emergencies and other schedules.”
Amidst the long working hours, the interns start work as early as 7.am, reporting from their respective residences since hospitals provide no accomodation.
The Publication Officer then said that this brings an issue of transport that is uncatered for, and meals, which they get to eat at 3pm after completing the ward rounds that they tend to start from morning.
In addition to the little pay of shs.750,000 amidst the high cost of accommodation and utilities in Kampala that ends up taking the ⅓ of the allowances, their salaries are usually delayed, making it even harder for them.
Against these conditions, Dr. Cherey said they laid down tools earlier this year in May 2021 and sent their representatives Dr Lilian Mary Nabwire, Dr. Nabushawo Faith, and former UMA president Dr. Richard Idro, to meet with President Museveni.
The president then directed salary increments of Medical Interns be shs. 2.5 million monthly. However, the directive remained in a bounce, prompting them to resume Industrial action in November 2021.
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