Doctors call off strike

The Uganda Medical Association has temporarily called off a strike that had paralysed services in government facilities across the country.

The decision to halt the strike was declared by the National Executive Committee of the Uganda Medical Association at a meeting held at Silver Springs Hotel on Saturday morning.

Dr Ekwaro Obuku, the President of the Uganda Medical Association asked doctors to resume work between now and December 16, when they expect to conclude negotiations with the government on the demands to improve the general welfare of medical personnel.

"We have talked to government and they have assured us that consultations to address our demands are going on."

In the interim, Government announced that Shs4.2 billion had been released to the Ministry of Health to cater for allowances of senior Health Officers.  It also reaffirmed that the starting salary for Doctors will be increased from the current Shs 1.3 million to Shs 5 million effective next financial year.  The allowances for medical interns will also be reinstated to Shs 940,000.

State Minister of Finance David Bahati , who represented government at the meeting called for patience and understanding during the negotiations adding that doctors need to trust their leaders to work in their best interest in addressing their grievances.

"There are people who are saying now-now-now...but that will not work. We need to be patient and trust each other." He assured the doctors that government is willing to work with UMA to address all their demands.

"You have brought us to our knees and now we are asking you to work with us. We have identified UMA as a body that we can work with to address all your demands."

Bahati pronounced that government and the doctors collectively realised that the challenge of availability of medical supplies is a result of shortfalls in the supply chain which is going to be reviewed in order to ensure steady supply in all facilities.

However, the minister expressed reservations on the suggested disbandment of the State House Health Monitoring Unit, saying that the matter requires a comprehensive process before a decision is taken. He asked doctors with complaints on the operations of the unit to lodge them  within the 10 days in the office of the security minister.

However, Dr Derrick Obumba, a leader of interns at Hoima Hospital says they will only call off the industrial action if government assures them in writing that their grievances will be addressed.

The UMA strike begun on November 6.


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