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DEAL: Government agrees to pay interns immediately

Health ministers, Uganda workers leaders, ministry officials and doctors met Friday. Strike will be called off, directive on interns withdrawn. PHOTO MOH

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has rescinded it’s orders to expel all medical interns effective Monday for striking.

The interns went on strike in May, 2021, following government’s failure to release funds that were meant for their allowances. Previously interns were earning between 750,000 and 800,000 Shillings. But in July, President Yoweri Museveni directed that the allowances of interns be raised to 2.5 million Shillings. After this directive the interns went back to work but they never received any payments leading to another strike in November.

However last week the Director General of Health Services, Dr Henry Mwebesa gave all interns an ultimatum to leave the hospitals where they were placed to make way for a new group of interns. This ultimatum sparked outrage from different academic institutions, with officials castigating ministry officials for taking this stand.

After a closed door  meeting held between the medical interns, the executive committee of the Uganda Medical Association, Ministry of Health officials, the Minister of ICT and National Guidance and representatives from the National Organisation of Trade Unions(NOTU), it has been agreed that all medical interns should not leave their posts as previously ordered.

A statement signed by Dr Chris Baryomunsi, the minister of ICT and National Guidance, indicates that the funds meant for the payment of intern allowances will be transferred to the accounts of the training institutions effective December 20.

In addition to this, the government committed to paying  all interns, pharmacists and nurses  who went on strike all their allowances in arrears for the period worked  starting July 1 to November 6. They will be paid 2.5 million monthly. However interns who didn’t go on strike will be paid arrears from July to December.

In exchange for this, the FUMI executive agreed to call off the industrial action and resume work on Monday next week. Dr Lilian Nabwire,the president of the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns says they welcome the ministry’s decision to stop the eviction.

“Many interns were worried about the orders but now they can stay where they are. We are happy about this and all the other things agreed upon,” she said.

The medical interns and doctors under UMA also agreed to withdraw the courts case that were filed on Thursday suing both the director general and minister of health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng.

The UMA executive also agreed to meet their members on Monday and find away forward on their ongoing industrial action that is now in its fourth week.

The meeting that took place today happens following the arrest of doctors on Wednesday as they marched to Parliament to petition the Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah. The doctors wanted the speaker to call for a special sitting of parliament so that their demands can be addressed.

The demands include: hiring of more staff, provision of PPE for all health workers, compensation of doctors who succumbed to COVID-19, tax waivers on cars bought by doctors and the provision of free vehicles for senior consultants.

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