Government has refuted reports that it has finalized plans to raise the retirement age for all public servants from 60 to 70 years.
Addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre in Kampala, Public Service Minister, and Wilson Muruli Mukasa said the proposed plan will only cater for medical professionals.
“Among the proposals for review is the provision for employment of medical specialists beyond the mandatory retirement age of 60 years,”Muruli Mukasa said.
The Minister explained that after consulting stakeholders including the Health Ministry, they came up with a proposal that will see specialized medical practitioners in the fields of oncology, hematology, anesthesia, psychiatry, cardiology, pathology and neuro-surgery among others be employed even after clocking the mandatory 60 years of age.
According to the Public Service Minister, the rapid population growth against the slower growth of production of medical specialists has resulted in the need to review the employment terms for medical specialists.
“The other circumstances that have necessitated this provision is the advancement in health care that Uganda needs to adopt.”
The minister explained that statistics from the Ministry of Health indicate that out of 688 approved positions of medical specialists, only 339 representing a percentage of 39 have been filled.
He said this necessitated a need for the redeployment of retired medical specialists.
The minister said that currently, the 2010 standing orders permit the re-employment of public officers after clocking the mandatory 60 years on contracts in case they possess rare skills, are medically fit and efforts to replace them have been futile.
He noted that in order for a medical specialist to be re-employed after clocking 60 years, an analysis of the particular manpower gap will first be made before any step is taken.
“Where there is a critical need and the officer meets the criteria for contract employment, then they will be re-deployed,” the Minister said.
“Each contract will be for a duration of three years each and they will be eligible to a maximum of three contracts subject to a personal medical fitness assessment report by the medical board.”
The Minister added that in the event that the skills gap has been filled through training of the lower cadres in the medical profession, the necessity to invoke this provision shall not be utilized.
The Uganda Medical Association president, Dr.Ekwaro Obuku recently said there is a big gap in terms of medical specialists that the government needs to close.
“We have less than 15 neurosurgeons but we need more than 30 in number. Each of the 15 referrals all over the country ought to have at least one neurosurgeon,” Dr.Obuku said during the launch of a free medical camp at ISBAT University in Kampala.
According to Dr.Joy Varghese, the head of the neurosurgeon department at Apollo hospital in India, training a single neurosurgeon takes between 15 to 20 years making it difficult for many African countries to fulfill.