As Doctors strike over pay, Health ministry is stuck with Shs 4 billion

As the strike by medical workers goes into its fifth day, it has emerged that the ministry of Health is stuck with Shs 4 billion which is meant to facilitate senior house officers.

Appearing before the parliamentary Health committee, Dr Ruth Aceng, the minister of Health said

Aceng had been summoned to explain the on-going strike by doctors that has paralysed many public hospitals.

But the MPs were shocked that the ministry has Shs 4 billion which was still unspent.

 

“You have not spent the Shs 4 billion meant for these senior house officers it could be the reason, the strike is on” said Dr Michael Bukenya, the chairperson of the committee.

Aceng replied: "We can not pay people we don’t know, we wrote to the various institutions  to tell us who these people are but its just last month that these lists where provided, paying them earlier than this meant we would end up paying people who are not working."

Ronald Ssegawa, the Under Secretary in the ministry of Health, later blamed the gaps on the various institutions.

"While we have the money we are working with institutions to give us names of the people to pay”, Ssegawa said.

Among other demands laid by the medical association was availing drugs to health facilities and this will cost the ministry of health about 1.2Trillion shillings.

Ssegawa said to meet the demands of the doctors, government has to spend not less than 40% of the national budget on doctor's salaries.

While all the health ministry  officials agreed the impact of the industrial action has left many people hopeless, they said they are banking on the salary review commission by public service that is expected to streamline salaries of all public servants.

However, the president of the Uganda Medical Association Dr Ekwaro Obuku doubted whether the commission will even solve their problems.

“We don’t expect anything good from that commission," Obuku said.

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