In a tense standoff between medical interns and the Ministry of Health, the Federation for Uganda Medical Interns (FUMI) has issued an ultimatum, giving the ministry up to 4 days to clear their outstanding allowances.
The interns, deployed across 58 centres in August, decry working under difficult conditions due to prolonged payment delays.
President of FUMI, Dr. Bill Adrati, stated.
"We gave our best to serve, but the ministry's delayed payments have left us in dire straits. If allowances are not cleared within 4 days, we will have no choice but to lay down our tools."
Despite a cabinet resolution in May to pay medical interns half of 1.5 million shillings net monthly, the interns claim they are receiving 40% less than the agreed amount.
Dr Adrati issued a second ultimatum, extending the deadline to the end of the year for the government to address the payment discrepancies.
Expressing discontent, Dr Bill Adrati reveals that interns and their senior counterparts in the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) have learned of a medical intern's policy being drafted by the ministry without their involvement as stakeholders.
Dr. Mirembe Joel, Secretary-General of UMA, emphasized.
"This lack of inclusion is unfair and undermines our role in shaping policies that affect our profession."
In response to the interns' ultimatum, Ministry of Health Spokesman Emmanuel Ainebyona acknowledges the payment challenges, citing the economic situation of the country. Ainebyona stated.
"We are working tirelessly to disburse funds on time, but economic constraints play a significant role in the delays."
Ainebyona assures that discussions on the Medical Interns Policy will take place at the right time, addressing the interns' concerns over being excluded from the drafting process.
Amidst the allowance dispute, broader concerns arise, including the deployment issues faced by medical interns from King Caesar University, yet to be deployed due to qualification challenges.
Reports indicate that Uganda grapples with a 60% gap in doctors, resulting in a doctor-patient ratio of 1:25,000, falling short of WHO recommendations.
As tensions escalate, the medical interns' ultimatum places the spotlight on systemic issues within the healthcare system, emphasizing the urgent need for resolution to ensure the well-being of both healthcare professionals and the patients they serve.