20 November 2012

Uganda: Striking Mulago Medical Students Sent Home

Photo: Agnes Ntambi/New Vision
Mulago medical students demonstrate

Uganda Institute of Allied Health and Management Sciences, Mulago (formerly Mulago paramedical school) has been closed following a two-day students' strike over power, poor accommodation and poor administration.

Other issues that the students list include bad food, poor hygiene and insensitivity of the administration, among others.

All students have been given two hours to peacefully vacate the school premises after they went rowdy and uncontrollable in the morning hours. Some students had by 9.00am started leaving the institution following the directive while others were stranded without means of transport.

"The management has been patient with you all this time while you refused to attend class. Your complaints will be addressed but not in one day," announced Alfred Otim, the institution's deputy principal.

"Your actions are contrary to the purpose of your presence in this institution. For the safety of the Government, hospital and patients, the Governing Council of this institution has directed that you go home with immediate effect." he said.

He said the students will be informed of further developments through the media. However, students expressed mixed reactions following the closure.

"This has affected my academic programme because this is my month of practice and doing research. I am now worried because the school is supposed to facilitate me in terms of resources during my training," said Prosy Achari, a second year student.

The students allege that their hostel roofs leak and are too small to accommodate all of them. As a result, some have been forced to sleep in the Warden's office, rooms, dining halls while the others either share beds, sleep on the floor or in corridors of the dark hostels.

During a press briefing on Monday, Otim said power was cut off in July by UMEME when the institute failed to clear a Sh800m bill accumulated over the year.

"We are aware of only Sh100m and yet UMEME claims we owe the company Sh800m," he said.

This is the second time this semester the students are striking over the same issues. The first strike was last month.

The students want the school Principal, Wilson Rwandembo Mugisha fired for being insensitive to their problems.

They appealed to Government and the Ministry of Higher Education to intervene.

"The important issue is not sending us home but rather addressing our grievances. I call upon the Government to come to our rescue because we are tired of listening to empty promises of the school administration," said Patrick Kintu, a second year student of occupational therapy.

Fact file:

• UIAHMS was started in 1929 with a laboratory training programme.

• This was in response to the Sleeping Sickness, Malaria, diarrhoea and STD epidemics of the time.

• Over time the programmes developed in size and scope and became organised into an Institution of learning(Uganda Institute of Allied Health and Management Sciences - Mulago.

• It is the largest Health Training Institution in the country in terms of the number of students and range of programmes, with a capacity of 1500.

• The school offers about 21 diploma and certificate courses under nine departments and they include;

• Post Basic programmes like Diploma in Anaesthesia, Diploma in Speech and Language Therapy, Diploma in Health Management and Leadership, Diploma in Ear, Diploma in Health Counseling and Social care.

• Other courses are higher diploma in Medical Laboratory Technology, Physiotherapy, Pharmacy, Medical Radiography, Occupational Therapy, Certificate Environmental Health Sciences, among others.

• The school has two windows of entry;

• Window one is Government sponsorship and constitutes 40% of the intake.

• Window two is self or private sponsorship where Ugandan students pay Sh1.5 while international students pay between US$3000 and US$4000 per year.

• The school's partners include Mbarara University and Kigali Health institute

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