Uganda: Hospitals to Substitute Striking Nurses

Countrywide — Mulago and Kiruddu national referral hospitals have said the industrial action declared by nurses and midwives yesterday over lunch allowances will not affect their operations.

According to the hospitals, they will ensure continuity of work.

Mr Nelson Obote, the public relations officer for Kiruddu hospital, told Daily monitor that whenever medical workers declare a strike, their health workers continue working because despite the challenges, they must exhibit passion and love for their work.

Dr David Nuwamanya, the administrator for Mulago National Referral Hospital, said if the strike happens, non-unionised nurses and midwives will be called upon to work because majority of the staff are not members of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) , which has called for the industrial action.

"Belonging to a union is a choice. We are continuing to work as we monitor the situation and even if they went on strike, we have put in place mechanisms to ensure that work goes on," he said.

Nurses and midwives under their umbrella body UNMU on Tuesday vowed to go on strike starting yesterday over lunch allowances estimated at Shs70b until the money is included in the 2021/2022 Financial Year Budget.

Ms Robinnah Nabanja, the State minister for Health in charge of General Duties, blamed the union leaders for calling for an industrial action without consulting government.

"Next time, do not move alone. You (to leaders of the nurses' union) went to Parliament to see the Speaker but failed to get her audience, if you had involved me, the item would have been brought to the floor of Parliament," she said.

The nurses and midwives strike over lunch allowances has kicked off at low momentum. According to some of the nurses and midwives, they had not received official communication from UNMU.

At Kawolo hospital, work was going on smoothly and Mr Lydio Abirya, the principal nursing officer, said: "I support the cause, but I cannot allow all nurses to go on strike. Even if they strike, senior nurses will keep around to handle emergencies."

A nurse at Lyantonde hospital, who preferred anonymity to speak freely about the strike, said they were threatened by some district officials of dismissal if they strike.

Mr Justus Ntabimana, the coordinator of the nurses' union in Masaka Sub-region, said: "Some union members got information late but they will participate in the strike ."

Ms Hope Katusiime, the nursing officer for Ntugamo District, said they have been busy with midwifery celebrations but would join later.

Dr Celestine Barigye, the director of Mbarara Regional Referral Hospital, said the nurses and midwives have not yet started the strike.

However, at the time of our visit to the hospital, there was no sight of a single nurse or midwife. Some patients said they last saw them at 12pm and the doctors and interns were carrying out deliveries.

Compiled by Stephen Otage, Al-Mahdi Ssenkabirwa, Felix Ainebyoona, Derick Kissa, Malik Fahd Jjinja, Paul Ssekandi, Ronald Kabaza, Yahdu Kitunzi, Fred Ayine, Elly Katahinga, and Nobert Atukunda

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