27 September 2012

Uganda: Gov't Hailed for Doubling Doctors Pay

The Government has been hailed for doubling the monthly pay for doctors working in health centers IVs to sh2.5m.

"As a workers MP who also represents medical workers, increasing their salary was a good move and highly appreciated but others civil servants emoluments should also be increased," Workers MP Marion Tunde told New Vision Thursday morning.

She however warned the Government against selective salary increments to particular categories of civil servants.

"Every civil servant is as important as medics be it a toilet cleaner. Government should make sure that all these categories are catered for because they are also not comfortable with their pay."

Primary Health care state minister, Sarah Opendi Wednesday announced a salary increment for doctors effective October this year.

Information and National Guidance minister Mary Karooro Okurut said the money has been mobilised through budget cuts from some Government Ministries and Departments.

Opendi said that Uganda doctors have been going out of the country in search of better pay and some of those who went to countries on the African continent, she said, were getting about sh2.5m. "We hope this will motivate our doctors and encourage those who have gone out of Uganda to return," Research has shown that most of the Ugandan doctors are employed in Rwanda, followed by South Africa.

She announced that Government is also to recruit over 6,172 health workers for health centres III, IV and V effective this financial year. Sh49.5bn has been allocated to the exercise. Sh6.5bn of the lot has been immediately availed to kick start the process and the remaining shs43bn is to be provided in a month's time, according to Opendi.

The key personnel to be recruited, according to the Ministry are doctors, nurses, midwives and other support staff.

According to Karooro, Ministries' budgets for activities such as workshops, welfare and entertainment for visitors have been reduced to save the monies for the health workers. She dismissed calls to cut the defence budget saying that the government cannot compromise the countries security through budget defence cuts.

Karooro also scoffed at reports that the MPS were bribed to soften their stance and pass this supplementary budget for health without insisting the defence budget be cut.

The MPs had at first insisted that the gov't cuts budgets of some key ministries including defence, but the Government argued that that would distort the budget process. It later accepted but said that cuts can be done elsewhere and not defence.

A statement from the Ministry of Health yesterday said that the increment of the Health Centre IV's doctors pay is in fulfillment of government plants to ensure consolidation of immunisation, tackle maternal health effectively and deal with HIV/AIDS as well as general health care of Ugandans.

It said that the Government is committed to implementing a health master plan that will achieve the millennium development goals (MDG) within available resources.

"The Government believes that when we successfully address immunisation, hygiene, safe water, nutrition and change our life styles, we can eliminate over 90% of all illnesses," the statement read.

It said that the Government is in full agreement with parliament on the urgent need to improve health care in the country. It said that the Government has made interventions like health infrastructure development, improving drug supply and immunisation to that effect.

It said that over the last two weeks, the discussion between Parliament and the Executive has been about provision of an additional sh39.2bn to supplement the sh844.7bn already allocated for human resources for Health centres III and Health centre IV. It added that the Government assessed the recruitment requirements of the Ministry and allocated sh49.5bn to cater for it.

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