Medical interns to govt: “The only way to get us back to work is by paying us”

Last Updated on: 8th November 2021, 09:33 pm

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By Christine Awor

 Lira – 8, November 2021: Medical interns across the country have laid down their tools after a delay in the implementation of the Presidential directives to increase their pay.

In August 2021, President Museveni directed that  medical interns’ pay should go up from shs750, 000 to shs2.5m.

In a letter dated 9, August, Museveni directed the Prime Minister, Robinah Nabbanja to put his directive into action.

“It was noted that medical interns earn a net pay of shs750, 000 which is not enough to meet basic needs. Most of them are not housed and live in rented unsafe locations distant from the training hospitals and have to buy their own food yet they work 24/7 and have no time to cook. It is against this background that I recommended that all medical interns be paid half of the recommended pay of the fully appointed officers in the respective professions,” Museveni said in the letter.

“In this regard, I am therefore directing you to implement this resolution in consultation with the Ministries of Health and Finance,” The letter further reads.

But up to now, sadly, the medical interns continue to receive the same amount of money they had been receiving ever since.

Speaking in an exclusive interview to TND News’ Awor on Monday afternoon, Dr Lillian Mary Nabwire who is the President of the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns (FUMI), said in May they went on strike because of the poor working condition, poor pay, lack of accommodation and high transport cost.

She added, “We are contracting Covid but no compensation and besides, we are sidelined when giving out Covid-19 allowances.”

They went on strike so that their welfare is improved.

On 1, June, she revealed that the President picked interest and met them. The had discussions and the President gave a directive that their pay be increased from shs750, 000 net to shs2.5m gross pay.

The President’s directive was to take effect early this year. According to FUMI President, everything still remain the same.

“…we have been getting the same amount of money without any communication and explanations being given as to why the directives have not yet been implemented.”

“This raises a lot of questions as to why the Presidential directives have been ignored and not respected. And so, medical interns countrywide have unanimously agreed to go on strike to voice their grievances,” she told us.

“Interns are working under hard conditions,” she said, adding that many of them cannot afford lunch or rent decent accommodations with the current allowance.

They want the government to provide housing for all intern doctors and nurses.

Shortly after FUMI president shared with TND News their grievances and a decision to lay down their tools, Dr. Faith Nabushawo who is the secretary general FUMI, said: “This is the first time the intern Doctors are laying down their tools this year.”

“After Presidential directives to have medical students paid more than what they get, the medical interns have not seen this money, nothing has been implemented.”

This has caused a lot of demotivation among them, according to the secretary general.

“However, as medical students we are committed to our work but the working condition is not favorable,” she continued.

“We are standing together in solidarity with the President of Uganda demanding that his directive is respected and implemented.”

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A medical intern holding a placard early Monday. Courtesy photo.

As leaders of the medical interns, she revealed that they  have made various engagements trying to get responsible authority to attend to their matter.

The interns say they are yet to get any update from the ministries of health and finance, including the office of the prime minister.

“All the officials delaying government programs should come out and give the medical interns what rightfully belongs to them otherwise, we vow never to stop laying down our tools no matter what.”

What FUMI is demanding for is just half of shs5m a full-time doctor earns.

There are over 14,000 intern doctors in over 42 hospitals across the country. However, on several occasions, interns have laid down tools over low pay, with nobody ready care!

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