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‘Health Ministry Refused To Meet Striking Medical Interns For Two Months’

Speaker Anita Among (pictured) has tasked the Ministry of Health to clear salaries of medical interns, in order to end the strike, warning that an industrial strike will likely cripple the health sector amidst the fight against  the deadly ebola epidemic.

The Speaker made the call during the plenary sitting in response to media reports of medical interns in government hospitals that have gone on strike because of delayed payment, describing the timing of the strike as worrying.

She said, “The timing of this strike is worrying especially with the outbreak of ebola and other diseases. So I request Government to make sure we see how we can solve the problem so that we have the medics do their work without any interruption of medical interns.

The Kabale Municipality MP, Nicholas Kamara informed Parliament that the Health Committee had earlier in the morning met with the leadership of the medical interns who informed MPs that the interns haven’t been paid for the two months of September and October and their plight has been worsened by the top leadership at the Ministry of Health refusing to meet the medical interns.

“The Ministry has refused to meet the leadership of interns for the two months, so there is lack of information. The interns don’t know why they haven’t been paid and they don’t know why there are salary disparities and I want the Minister to explain why they should refuse to meet the interns,” said Kamara.

However, State Minister for Health (Primary Health Care), Margaret Muhanga refuted claims made by interns informing Parliament noting, “The interns have been paid today and there is nothing left and the strike was called off. However July and August but releases were inadequate and paid September and October.”

Muhanga blamed the delayed payment on the failure by the Ministry of Finance to release enough funds for the payment of salaries of the medical workers both those in practice and interns, a revelation that attracted criticism from Speaker Among who tasked the Ministry of Health to prioritise payment of salaries of medical workers.

Leader of Opposition, Mathias Mpuuga tasked Minister Mihanga to explain who will be held accountable for the deaths in health facilities as a result of the strike, Mpuuga said, “Will you explain to this House, how many lives were lost out of that negligence and who should we demand to account? For the Minister to simply come here and explain that they have paid, when people are complaining of patients not being attended to because somebody is casually failing to tend to duty is unacceptable.”

Lulume Bayiga (Buikwe South) accused Minister Muhanga of lying, saying claims that the interns have been paid are false, “We have just been in health committee and met leadership and they explained that they haven’t been paid even after a pronouncement that they were paid September they haven’t even called off the strike. They haven’t even been met by the Ministry of Health by anybody, the strike is still on, the interns haven’t been paid and therefore, the Minister is lying.”



Speaker directed Minister Muhanga to table a statement explaining the failure to pay medical interns and why the directive by President Museveni to increase salaries of medical doctors hasn’t been honoured by the Ministry of Health.

 

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