Up Country Hospitals Boycott Doctors' Strike

2932 Views Gulu, Uganda

In short
Julius Nkulabo, the Head of Gynecology Department at Gulu referral hospital says their decision is not bent on threats government issued to have resident district commissioners conduct roll calls of health workers on duties.


Health Workers in up country hospitals have resolved to stay out of the on-going nationwide strike pushing for better welfare of health workers in Uganda.
In Acholi sub region, health workers say they are staying on duty after carefully analyzing the unique conflict history of the region and the numerous prevailing challenges that patients have to go through to access health care services.
Julius Nkulabo, the Head of Gynecology Department at Gulu referral hospital says their decision is not bent on threats government issued to have resident district commissioners conduct roll calls of health workers on duty.
Nkulabo told a visiting delegation of members of parliament on the health committee over the weekend that they were also considering laying down their tools in solidarity with their colleagues in other parts of the country.
"We reconsidered that decision on humanitarian ground and the unique history of this region. Not in light of the threats we are having," he stated to the amusement of the committee members.
Jennifer Amono, a senior nursing officer said they were all happy with the decision to stay on duty.
Christine Acaa, a mother attending to her daughter in the children's ward told URN that services have been consistent over the three days she spent at the hospital.
Long queues also formed at the casualty and outpatient departments as health workers in uniforms attended to them. Health workers in Kitgum, Lamwo, Nwoya, Amuru and Agago are also boycotting the strike. In Gulu, lower health units remain in normal operation.
Health Workers under the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) on November 7th declared a nationwide strike over salary enhancement. They accused government of failing to act on promises it made to increase their pay.
Medical workers want the state house health monitoring unit disbanded, hospital supplies enhanced and salaries enhanced for all health workers. They want an intern doctor to earn a gross monthly salary of Uganda shillings 8.5 million from the current Shillings 960,000. A medical officer or teaching assistant to be paid Shillings 15 million and be given a two-bedroom house and a 2.5cc vehicle.
A senior consultant doctor or professor must be the highest-paid health worker with a gross salary of UGX 48 million shillings in addition to other allowances. They also want him to be given a five-bedroom house, 4.0cc vehicle, and three domestic workers.
The Committee praised the health workers decision to boycott the strike saying government is working hard to review the salaries of public servants.
Jacqueline Aol, the Nebbi Woman Member of Parliament described the decision of the health workers as nationalistic, patriotic and pro maternal health objectives.
Fred Baseke, the Ntenjeru South County Member of Parliament said they applaud the up country health workers for boycotting the nationwide strike in demonstration of their trust for government efforts to address the salary questions at once.
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Government has said it can't afford to meet their demands for now threatening to penalize the health workers for the strike.
Health Minister Dr. Ruth Aceng ordered the striking health workers to return to work saying the association behind the strike is illegal and devoid of mandate to push for welfare of health workers.


About the author

Peter Labeja
Peter Labeja has been a practicing journalist for the last 13 years during which he has covered part of the brutal conflict which bedeviled Northern Uganda as well as the painful transition to Peace thereafter. Emerging post conflict issues such as land rights of under privileged widows and orphans, challenges of access to social services in the immediate aftermath of Lord’s Resistance Army conflict in Northern Uganda.

Labeja is now the Northern Uganda Bureau chief in Acholi Sub Region since 2014 - Gulu, Amuru, Nwoya and Omoro districts as well as South Sudan falls within his areas of jurisdiction. He previously worked with The Vision Group for four years.

Labeja’s major career interests are in Climate Change; Agriculture and Environment - natural resources such as Water, Oil and Gas; Transitional Justice; Human Rights, Democracy and Governance as well as South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis. In 2013, Labeja was awarded a prestigious Pan African Journalism Award for excellence in journalism at United Nation’s UNEP headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya for Climate Change and Health Reporting.