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Medical Interns go on strike over low pay

NATIONAL: Up to 1,403 medical interns, who are working in 42 hospitals across the country, have announced a sit-down strike over low pay and poor working conditions.

The interns, who claim they handle about 80 per cent of patients in the hospitals, are made up of doctors, graduate nurses, dental surgeons and pharmacists who hold provisional practising licences from their professional bodies.

Announcing the start of the strike yesterday, the Federation for Uganda Medical Interns (FUMI) said government should increase monthly remuneration from Shs750,000 to Shs3 million for doctors and pharmacists.

They also demand that the remuneration for graduate nurses should be increased from Shs750,000 to Shs2.2 million.

The FUMI said their demand is in line with the 2019 recommendation by the Parliament Health Committee, but that Finance ministry has been ignoring their demand even in the 2021/2022 financial year.

“We had hope that following Parliament’s recommendations would be adhered to this financial year [2021/2022], to alleviate some of our welfare challenges,” the statement reads in part.

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It adds: “However, on May 8, 2021, we received information [from Parliament Health Committee] that the Shs35 billion money for remuneration of interns which Parliament recommended to be included in the National Budget was not included,” the statement adds.

The interns said the government gave them Shs11.4 billion in the 2019/2020 financial year.
The interns said they don’t “have lunch [at the workplace], [they are] frustrated, depressed and living in unsafe houses in slums.”

The Health Ministry spokesperson, Mr Emmanuel Ainebyoona, asked the interns to be patient.

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“We acknowledge the demand but the funds required to meet are not within our budget. We have already raised the issue to government structures and it is being discussed. We appeal to the medical interns to put patience first and understand that internship is part of their training requirements,” he said.

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