Nurses under their umbrella body, the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union(UNMU) have asked government to fulfill its promise of increasing their lunch allowances.
Nurses and midwives are currently getting 2000 shillings as their daily allowance but in the agreement they reached with government, the money will be increased to 15000 shillings.
This would mean that it would cost government shs126 billion in a year for the 24500 nurses and midwives in government hospitals.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday, UNMU president, Justus Cherop Kiplangat said they have waited for two years since 2017 for the promise to materialize but in vain.
“This lack of commitment by government to fulfill its promises has continued to demoralize us as health workers. We have reached out to several government organs to have the nurses’ welfare improved but in all in vain,” Cherop said.
Flanked by nurses and midwives’ representatives from various parts of the country including Western Uganda, Northern Uganda. West Nile and central region, the UNMU president argued that their members have continued to suffer because the shs2000 is not enough to buy a decent meal.
“The shs2000 we get can only buy a meal of chapati and beans which is not decent yet we spend at least eight hours on duty. The quality of care we give to patients risks being compromised if our welfare is not improved,” said Milly Nakintu, a nurse from the Mulago national referral hospital.
The nurses argue that because they are always busy, it would be easy for them to send someone to buy for them lunch for shs15000 when they are on duty.
The nurses under their umbrella body, Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union(UNMU) also asked government to look into their accommodation issues.
They argue that the accommodation facilities at the hospitals and health centres where they operate are not enough whereas others are in a sorry state.
“Those of us working for evening hours begin work at 2 pm and leave between 10 and 11 pm yet most of us stay in distance places. Transport challenges then affect us. Government ought to look into our predicaments,” Nakintu a nurse at Mulago national referral hospital said.
According to Ram Samson Andua, a nurse at Arua regional referral hospital, over 80 percent of his colleagues stay outside the hospitals where they work and always get challenges of transport.
“There are always emergencies like accident victims and mothers giving birth and in such situations, we have to return to work to assist but it is risky because we stay far away from the hospitals,” Andua said.
The nurse said sometimes they lack money for transport and end up walking to hospitals to attend to emergencies, a thing he said ought to change for the better.
“Our work is like that of the police officers and soldiers but they sleep in barracks. Why don’t we, just like those two groups be given decent accommodation at places of work?”
The Uganda Nurse and Midwives Union president said starting September, members would resolve to always get an hour and a half off their schedules to go out to look for lunch or at least rest in absence of lunch if government has not fulfilled its promise of increasing their lunch allowances.
When contacted for a comment, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Public Service, Catherine Bitarakwate did not pick our repeated calls.
President Museveni while officiating at the National celebrations for the international day for Nurses and midwives held at Kyamate Secondary school playground in Ntungamo Municipality in May backed the proposal to increase lunch allowances for nurses and build more training schools.