8 November 2017

Uganda: Doctors Strike Enters Day Three As Crisis Depeens

An emergency meeting that was convened to convince the striking doctors to end their industrial action ended in a deadlock.

The Tuesday meeting was attended by Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda, the leadership of Uganda Medical Association at the Prime Minister's Office in Kampala.

According to Dr Ekwaru Obuku, the president of UMA, their team was led by his deputy, Prof. Pauline Byakika. He said the meeting, however, was inconclusive.

The doctors had earlier met officials of the Ministry of Finance, which meeting also ended in a deadlock.

However, he also indicated that they would review the mechanisms of implementing the strike, the day they meet President Museveni on November 17.

Dr Obuku says the strike can only end in short term if government resolves issues of duty facilitation allowances, fixes intern doctors' working conditions and welfare as well as payments for senior house officers.

He said the general assembly of their association I the only organ that can call off the strike through a vote.

Meanwhile, the strike on Wednesday entered the third with all doctors in government health centres staying away from work.

Currently, midwives, nurses and other paramedical officers who did not join the strike are manning the health facilities.

Patients feel pinch

Soroti: Victims who sustained injuries during the drama that ensued on Monday between police and supporters of Opposition activist Kizza Besigye had not got treatment at Soroti Regional Referral Hospital as the doctors' strike entered second day.

Mr Dan Ekochu, one of the injured, by yesterday morning, had not received medical attention as senior medical officers left the work to intern doctors. Another victim only identified as Fred was transferred to a private orthopedic centre. The hospital administrator, Dr Paul Ajuk, said they were handicapped. Asked whether they were on strike, he said: "Just move around and witness what is going on, I cannot comment on that because it's a highly political thing."

Hoima: At Hoima hospital, several patients yesterday spent the day waiting for doctors. "I came here at 10am. I have malaria and back pain. I have not been attended to," Mr George Asiimwe, a resident of Mparo Division, said. The hospital principal administrator, Mr Eleazer Mugisa, said there are a few doctors who are only handling emergencies such as operations, children with complications and mothers that require caesarian operations.

Kabale: Work at Kabale hospital went on normally yesterday. "We do not have any problem here as you can see everything is going on smoothly," the principal nursing officer, Sr Christine Akurut, said. Some of the patients interviewed said they were being attended to and some were not aware of the doctors' strike. We could not, however, verify if the patients were being attended to by doctors or other medical personnel.

Kabarole: At Fort Portal Regional Referral Hospital, work was normal as the clinical officers and medical interns turned up. However, doctors joined their colleagues in other parts of the country to strike.

The acting hospital director, Dr Kaliisa Kabagambe, told Daily Monitor that patients will continue receiving services although medical doctors are on strike.

"Clinicians and interns are not part of the strike, so patients should not stop coming to the hospital thinking that there are no services," he said, adding: "We are also working on emergencies despite the strike." The district health officer, Dr Richard Mugahi, appealed to the doctors on strike to resume work as government solves their issue.

Nwoya: At Anaka Hospital in Nwoya District, the two doctors at the facility joined the strike, according to the district spokesperson, Mr Geoffrey Axuma Odokonyero.

He, however, said the rest of the health workers were in their respective offices. "When I tried to speak to the striking doctors, they told me they are within the vicinity to handle only emergency cases," Mr Odokonyero said. He, however, advised the doctors to resume their operations as government reviews their salary.

Kitgum: At Kitgum Hospital, the activities were very slow unlike other days, according to Dr Geoffrey Akena, the acting medical superintendent. Dr Akena said ward rounds were not conducted yesterday but the doctors carried out emergency cases where operations were required.

Gulu: Several doctors at Gulu hospital were seen in most of the wards. Ms Joyce Akull, 64, said her grandchild was attended to. The hospital administrator, Mr Jona Oboth, said. "We have not observed any strike here and our doctors are doing their work as expected."


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