Govt remains non-commital on deployment of medical interns
- Written by URN
Ministry of Health has stated that they are still uncertain about the exact deployment date for medical interns to begin their one-year training, despite several demonstrations that have taken place since April.
Ministry of Health permanent secretary Dr Diana Atwine says that a cabinet meeting was held on Monday this week to discuss the payment issues concerning medical interns, senior house officers (SHOs), and senior doctors, who have been on strike.
However, she explained that the meeting did not reach a definitive conclusion regarding when the medical interns, who were initially supposed to commence training on April 1st, would report to various hospitals across the country. This is pending a commitment from the ministry of Finance regarding funding.
"Interns are our young doctors who need to be deployed, we delayed to deploy them not because we didn't want contrary to what I'm seeing in the media. Our interest is to see these young people deployed, and they train, and they finish and go and make a living, and also grow in their profession. Only one hindrance was standing in the way, availability of funds because every month we're supposed to pay for the time they spend, but also, it is not a salary - just allowance for their living like buying food, rent because we don't have enough houses," said Atwine.
She further clarified that the availability of the necessary funds had not yet been indicated to them by the cabinet.
"[Cabinet] tasked Finance to find ways getting this money. If it means suppressing some activities because this a priority for us so we're waiting to hear from ministry of Finance," she added.
In a separate incident on Monday, several pre-interns were arrested by the police and detained in Wandegeya while marching to the president's office to amplify their demands.
Apart from the delayed deployment, Uganda Medical Association (UMA) expressed concern over reports that the government plans to discontinue the payment of allowances to interns due to an increase in the number of medics exceeding the available funding.
Currently, medical interns receive a monthly allowance of Shs 2.5 million. Atwine attributed the unforeseen increase in intern numbers to the failure of the ministry of Education to regulate the intake of students into medical schools.
"What we need to do is continuously talk with Education to implement this because this has been in discussion for a long time. That we curb numbers, the numbers that we can easily deploy effectively, pay them but also train properly because when they are overcrowding in some of these facilities, they don't learn better. So we need to have numbers that we can effectively train and also pay and support really. So I hope it will be done," said Atwine.
She emphasized that the surge in medical schools has resulted in an overwhelming number of students that the ministry is unable to adequately train to meet the requirements of the job market. According to her, regulating student numbers at an earlier stage would benefit the medical field.
However, Dr Frank Asiimwe Rubabinda, president of the Association of Surgeons of Uganda (ASOU), proposed an alternative solution. He suggested that instead of regulating student numbers, the government should consider privatizing medical internships. This would enable private hospitals with the necessary equipment and staff to provide the required training.
Rubabinda argued that the doctor-to-patient ratio in the country remains below the recommended standards set by the World Health Organization, and with a growing population, the demand for more doctors will continue to rise.
Otherwise, because of their critical value, in as far as health and human life is concerned, nowhere in the world are medical doctors (medics in general) treated so shabbily and with disdain, the way they are treated in Uganda by the current regime.
That was when he was faced with the uproar and outrage after he scandalously used our Presidential Jet as a Maternity Air Ambulance to ship off his daughter and daughter in law, to Germany to deliver his grandchildren.
In other words, our humiliated Medics must know the origin of the Govt being "Non-committal" on the deployment of Medical Interns, Gen Tibuhaburwa whose Wardrobe Budget is Shs.500,000,000 (a half a billion only) per year.