Uganda: Health Workers Demand Salaries, Risk Allowance

Medical workers at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, who were contracted to handle Covid-19 patients at the height of the pandemic last year, are demanding their salaries and risk allowances.

The health workers at the Covid-19 Treatment Unit (CTU) told Daily Monitor in an interview yesterday that they are demanding risk allowances of more than Shs350 million.

Each health worker at CTU is supposed to receive Shs90, 000 per day.

Dr Hussein Hasasha, the coordinator of Mbale CTU, said the health workers have taken more than eight months without getting their risk allowances.

"We are demanding Covid-19 risk allowances from April last year to date. We are also demanding salaries for the months of March and April," he said.

Dr Hasasha said the hospital allegedly received some money in the second quarter but it was diverted to other activities .

"We were told by the management that the money was given to people who renovated the Covid-19 units in the second quarter and to pay plumbers who renovated the Covid-19 unit," he said.

Dr Hasasha said the health workers also lack accommodation, adding that despite several reminders, they have not received any communication from the Ministry of Health.

Health workers, who requested not to be named, said they are working under stressful conditions.

"It's unfortunate that we have worked and no allowances and salaries are paid to us to date. We are not given meals, salary, accommodation and allowance. We have tried to complain in vain and yet we gave our lives to save the nation in this deadly pandemic," they said.

They also accused government of neglecting them whenever they get infected.

The workers also said they have inadequate personal protective equipment, which leaves them at risk of getting infected.

An April 13 letter signed by Dr Hasasha and addressed to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, reads: "I hereby submit the claim on behalf of Covid-19 Treatment Unit team, for special considerations and reference is made to our letter to your office dated December 29 last year over unpaid allowance for staff working in Covid-19 Isolation Unit of Mbale Regional Referral Hospital."

"The allowances we last received were for August last year and we have tried to engage the hospital management but all we are told is that the money they received could only cover the months of August and July last year," the letter reads in part.

The director of Mbale Regional Referral Hospital, Dr Emmanuel Tugaineyo, acknowledged that the health workers are demanding allowances.

When asked when they intend to pay them, he said: "That question is better answered by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health. I'm aware of unpaid allowances."

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