By Najib Mulema

The Health Monitoring Unit has lashed out at medical doctors who are planning to carry out an industrial action over unsolved grievances by government.

It has said the actions by doctors under their umbrella body, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) are grossly misleading, frivolous and undermine public confidence in the health care sector and by implication – the medical profession.

The unit’s comment follows doctors’ last week extraordinary meeting held at Mulago hospital where they voted to strike starting on 6th November, 2017 if government doesn’t review their salaries as well as enhance their allowances, including for overtime, housing, transport, medical risk, and retention.

Dr. Jackson Ojera Abusu, the Director of Health Monitoring Unit, says UMA was formed as a private association of medical doctors and therefore is not a statutory body that is authorized to speak on behalf of doctors.

He says the legally constituted body charged with regulating the affairs of doctors and such incidental issues is the Medical and Dental Practitioners Council established under the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap 272 laws of Uganda.

“We are not aware if indeed this body is registered as a labor union. Even if it were, the salary demands of raising the emoluments of a doctor up to a tune of Shs. 48 million is simply unsustainable for a developing country like Uganda. While we are sure of government’s commitment to increase the pay of its doctors, Dr. Obuku and his team should be mindful of the country’s resource capacity and not hold the treasury at ransom,” said Dr. Abusu.

“The said actions of UMA fall short of the ethical and professional standards and any negative attributes that may arise out of their threatened strike if their exorbitant demands are not met, will greatly affect the cherished reputation of the medical profession built over the years,” he added.

Meanwhile, doctors led by Dr Ekwaro Obuku, the UMA president want a medical officer or teaching assistant to be paid Shs15 million and accorded a two-bedroom house and a 2.5cc vehicle.

A senior consultant doctor or professor to be the highest paid health work with a gross salary of Shs48m plus allowances. These will be accompanied by a five-bedroom house, 4.0cc vehicle, and three domestic workers.

The doctors also want salaries for nurses and midwives enhanced to about Shs6.5 million besides a three-bedroomed house, 2.0cc vehicle and one domestic worker as well as intern doctor to earn Shs8.5million as opposed to the current Shs960,000 before tax.