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Doctors Ignore Strike, Report to Work

At Mulago National Referral Hospital, doctors on different wards of the hospital were found attending to patients. The situation was the same at Kiruddu Referral Hospital and Kawempe Hospital.

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Doctors in some health facilities in different parts of Kampala on Monday showed up for work despite a nationwide strike announced by their umbrella body, the Uganda Medical Association.

The doctors went on strike after the government failed to meet their demands and fulfill their past promises. The doctors want the government to fill more than 40 percent of the vacant posts in public health facilities, increase the pay of intern doctors to 2.5 Million Shillings as directed by the President.

Other demands include compensating the families of health workers who succumbed to COVID-19 and to provide medical supplies like oxygen in health facilities and including medical interns and senior house officers on the public service salary structure.

Now, hours after the strike began, some doctors seem to have disregarded the strike by showing up for work. At many health facilities that URN visited, doctors dressed in their white coats could be seen attending to patients. 

At Mulago National Referral Hospital, doctors on different wards of the hospital were found attending to patients. The situation was the same at Kiruddu Referral Hospital and Kawempe Hospital.

A doctor who URN spoke to who preferred anonymity said they had to work. " I cannot refuse to work. Suppose we are punished for going on strike. I have children that depend on my job," the doctor said.

At Luwero and Nakaseke district hospitals, work was going on normally.  Other health workers were seen on vaccination drives in Luwero town and Katikamu sub-county in Luwero district.

The health workers said that although they support the cause of the strike, they feared participating because they could be reprimanded by the district authorities. “If I strike and am fired, will UMA come to my rescue? We have faced several disciplinary actions here and I have never seen them coming to our rescue” a health worker at Luwero hospital.

At Kiruddu National Referral Hospital, doctors showed up for work and could be seen attending to patients. The doctors told URN that they had shown up to offer their services to patients in critical condition.

The doctors who preferred to remain anonymous told our journalists that they could not ignore critically ill patients. //Cue in; “The emergency unit ...

Cue out; …and the I.C.U."//

One intern doctor who preferred anonymity said Kiruddu has between 25 to 35 doctors and 26 intern doctors, but all the interns are on strike. 

//Cue in; “Because of the government ...

Cue out; ...don’t have cash.”//

However at some health facilities, despite the administration insisting that all their staff and show up for work, the absence of doctors was evident.

At Kawempe National Referral Hospital, no doctors could be seen at the hospital.

Many patients at the hospital said that they were stranded because there were no doctors to attend to them.

Diriisa Matovu, a resident of Bukasa who had brought his wife for a checkup after an operation said that only a few midwives and nurses attended to her.

Matovu who went to the hospital at 6:00 am said that by 2:00 pm that no doctors were at the hospital to attend to his wife.

He adds that some of the patients who had come for treatment were turned away except pregnant mothers and a few with no complications. 

 //Cue in: “ Twakedde kumakya… 

Cue out:…..sikoze leero naye obuvunantizibwa”.//

At Kisugu Health Center, only nurses could be seen working. In the situation at Kisenyi Health Center IV, there was visibly no doctor around the medical facility, it was only nurses in their uniform. 

Justus Cherop, the President of the Uganda Nurses and Midwives union says nurses are not on strike.

“The issues raised by the doctors are very right and will help health workers but we are not part of the strike. We have asked all out nurses to go to their work stations and work," Cherop said.

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