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Ministry of Health orders interns to ‘Drop the demands and report to work’

FILE PHOTO: Interns strike over the working terms.

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Ministry of Health has called upon all medical interns to report to the stations where they were posted instead of making excessive demands.

The call follows a series of complaints by medical interns under the Federation for Medical Interns, criticizing a move by the government to change the amount of time spent on rotation on each discipline.

Previously, interns spent three months on each discipline- Surgery, Internal Medicine, Pediatrics and Obstetrics. But in the new rotation, interns will spend six months studying two disciplines-one medical and surgical.

Dr Charles Olaro, the acting Director-General of Health Services at the Health Ministry says interns cannot dictate their own training curriculum. “Let those who want to do internship go ahead and start. Those with complaints can wait until the government is able to afford all their demands and start,” Dr Olaro stated.

He added that the changes were recommended by Specialist Clinicians who train the interns. According to Dr Olaro, the change was made after discovering that some interns could not carry out simple medical procedures even after graduation. Some, he adds, did not even have the confidence to diagnose ailments and diagnose medicine.

“The trainers of these interns reported that most medical officers that had done their internship on the 3 months’ rotation method could not even conduct simple surgical procedures when posted to health centre IVs.”

Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Diana Atwine says the rotation across different disciplines is in the best interest of interns. “This is for their own good. They should welcome the change instead of complaining,” She said.

The medical interns have also asked the ministry to provide them with salaries on an appropriate scale because they do the lion’ share of work in health facilities. They want the government to pay them a salary of three million Shillings per month.

But according to the Ministry of Health, Interns can only earn an allowance to facilitate their apprenticeship and not salaries. Each intern is paid 700,000 Shillings monthly to cater for accommodation and meals during the one-year internship. This year, the government needs a total of 1,170 interns.

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