Medical interns want 2.5m to call off strike

Medical interns have set Shs 2.5 million as the bare minimum non-negotiable salary that must be deposited on their accounts before they call off the strike.

Though the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has set 8.5 million Uganda shillings as salary that must be paid to intern doctors, Robert Lubega, the president of medical interns for 2017-2018 says they have lowered their salary demands to 2.5 million as non-negotiable. The intern doctors laid down tools together with licensed doctors on November 6 pushing for better pay.

Lubega says they will wait for government to meet their demands.

Lubega says medical interns are tired of working under poor conditions. On Thursday, health minister Ruth Aceng ordered doctors to return to work immediately or risk losing their jobs. She also asked interns to call off the strike or lose their internship placements.

Though the Ministry of Health claims that medical interns are paid Shs 900,000 per month, Lubega says the Permanent Secretary Dr Diana Atwine released a letter on November 2 saying that this year's medical interns will be paid Shs740,000 per month.

Lubega says the figure was broken down into 400,000 as allowance, 250,000 for feeding and 90,000 for accommodation.

Lubega says there is nowhere in Uganda that they can get a decent accommodation at 90,000 shillings or meals at 250,000 for a month. He further claims that there are medical interns who have been paid as low as 550,000 shillings.

Lubega says no government officials should classify medical interns as students. "A medical intern is not a student but a graduate doctor from a recognised university who is undergoing one-year supervised practical training at an accredited internship training centre."

He says medical doctors are a backbone of Uganda's health system. "We are the foot soldiers who an accident victim will find in hospital when they are brought to emergency unit before seeing a senior doctor," Lubega says.

Lubega also argues that medical interns can't work when their supervisors are on strike. He says a total of 970 medical interns are deployed in 35 hospitals across the country.


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