Medical doctors maintain their strike

By Samuel Ssebuliba

Doctors under the Uganda Medial Association have maintained their strike despite a directive by the health minister to return to work today.

The doctors laid down the tools on Monday over low pay and poor working conditions paralyzing operations at all public hospitals across the country.

At an emergency news conference called last night health minister Dr Jane Acheng ordered all medical workers to immediately resume work saying the strike is illegal and that the association is not a registered union to lobby for workers’ rights.

While quoting the President Museveni’s circular, Dr Aceng said the Resident District Commissioners will among other things record the time of reporting to work of all health workers plus monitoring the usage of medicines.

“I have a circular for the President with me directing the RDCs to monitor all activities in health facilities in their districts,” she said.

Dr Aceng said yesterday while addressing a hastily organized emergency press conference held at the Ministry of Health to declare the strike called by the Uganda Medical Association “illegal.”

“All health workers who adhere to this directive shall not be subjected to any disciplinary action,” Dr Aceng said.

Dr Acheng added that all doctors who resume work would be given adequate protection from government and will not be subjected to the disciplinary process.

She has also asked all intern doctors to return to work immediately, warning that failure to do so shall lead to the termination of their internship.

However, the Uganda Medical workers’ Association spokesperson Dr. Brian Kasagga says the strike will continue until their demands are met.

“The strike is still on until we see some results from this industrial action. The minister knows our grievances , she is also a doctor like us. Our remuneration is so low and the hospitals are ill equipped”, he said.

Dr Kasagga also denies claims by the minister that the strike is illegal and that their association has no mandate to speak for doctors saying an association of more than 6,000 members can come out and voice complaints that may be raised.

Dr Acheng however admitted that the doctors’ demands are genuine have been forwarded to the Public Service Negotiation and Consultation Council.