The Uganda Medical Association (UMA) has temporarily called off a strike that had paralyzed services in government health facilities across the country. The doctors laid down their tools on November 6 to protest against low pay and poor working conditions.
The decision to halt the strike was declared by the National Executive Committee of the UMA at a meeting held at Silver Springs hotel today.
Dr Ekwaro Obuku, the president of the UMA 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.
Dr Obuku called for respect during the ongoing negotiations between the two sides.
“Ministry of Health, you’re very quick to harass doctors yet you’re doctors. Please hold your pens, we have finished business with government, we want to take further to Parliament, State House etcetera until we see that the key issues are handled. We want to see this Shs 41 billion in reality that supplies are being taken to hospitals. It is useless for doctors to return to hospitals without nothing to work with. This is key. We have seen patients dying”, he added.
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 realized 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.