In a recent announcement to stage what they termed as a “historic industrial action”, doctors under their umbrella organisation — Uganda Medical Association (UMA) – among the factors they listed to be fueling their strike, was the way Health Monitoring Unit (HMU) was handling medical workers across the country.
Ekwaro Obuk, UMA president, described the mission by the government law enforcement body as a “war on doctors”, stating that doctors were being “harassed” and “unfairly imprisoned”, leading to “increased loss of medical workers.”
Established in 2009 by President Museveni, HMU was intended to response to countrywide public outcry about the poor state of health service delivery mainly due to massive stock out of medicines in all health facilities.
Precisely, the role of the body was to bring to book drug thieves and unscrupulous public officials.
But to some medical workers, the Unit instead of bringing the health sector to order, they are rather destabilising it. Doctors want their own professional bodies to take the mantle of disciplinary action.
This did not go well with Dr. Jackson Ojera Abusu, the director of HMU.
In a lengthy missive in which he outlined some of the outstanding achievements of HMU, Abusu, states that actions of UMA leadership are “grossly misleading, frivolous”, adding that they “undermine public confidence in the health care sector and by implication – the medical profession.”
Pointing directly at UMA President Dr Obuku, who he says along with his executive are “in isolation unnecessarily, fruitlessly and vainly complaining about the operations of HMU”, he told them to desist from such pessimistic thinking, and join efforts to shape the health sector.
Considering UMA was formed as a private association of medical doctors, he argues, it does not qualify as a “statutory body that is authorised to speak on behalf of doctors.”
The Medical and Dental Practitioners Council, the director says, is the legally constituted body charged with regulating the affairs of doctors, citing the Medical and Dental Practitioners Act, Cap 272 laws of Uganda.
Additionally, he states HMU is “not aware if indeed this body (UMA) is registered as a labor union.”
Regarding the issue of salaries, Abusu noted that even when as HMU they associate with the plight of doctors welfare, “the salary demands of raising the emoluments of a doctor up to a tune of Shs48 million is simply unsustainable for a developing country like Uganda.”
Shs48m is the salary doctors want a senior consultant doctor, who currently earns about Shs3.4 million, to be paid.
That will be on top of a five-bedroom house, a 4.0cc vehicle and three domestic workers.
The least paid doctor who is a medical officer will be earning Shs8.5m plus allowances of Shs5.5m. Interns also called medical officers are currently paid Shs960,000.
Doctors also want a medical officer or teaching assistant to be paid Shs15 million and accorded a two-bedroom house and a 2.5cc vehicle.
They also want salaries for nurses and midwives enhanced to about Shs6.5 million in addition to a three-bedroomed house, 2.0cc vehicle and one domestic worker.
Wilson Muruli Mukasa, the minister of public service recently revealed that the government had already “developed proposals” regarding the salary issue, and they “are now being appraised to ascertain their viability and long term sustainability.”
By the “end of November 2017”, he said, “Government will pronounce itself on the matter.”
For his part, the HMU boss, noted that whereas government is committed 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.”
“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.
HMU achievements as Per Dr Abusu are as follows:
Recoveries from thefts and embezzlement (2009 to date) – recovered medicines, health supplies, equipment plus cash embezzled summing up to UGX 15,862,457,254 of which hard cash recovered amounts to Sh. 3,000, 000,000 that was remitted to the consolidated account.
LLIN Campaign (Jan – Aug, 2017) – HMU participated in five (5) waves of monitoring of registration of households and LLINs distribution campaign, supported by GFATM, AMF, DFID, USAID / PMI.
A total of 22,348,728 nets were distributed to total of 42,156,197 people in 7,912,026 households in 111 districts
HMU participation in LLIN campaign enabled detection, arrests and recoveries of Sh. 37,213,000 that was stolen by mainly sub-county supervisors during the LLINs distribution campaign (Waves 1, 2, 3, 4a and 5).
Remaining districts are Mbarara, Sheema, Kasese, Bundibugyo, Kagadi, Wakiso and Kampala where registration of households and distribution of nets will be done by Dec, 2017
Capacity Building (Dec, 2016 to March 2017 ): With financial support from UNICEF, HMU carried out training of health unit management committee (HUMC) members and supervisors in all government health facilities in 32 districts in West Nile, Acholi, Lango and Karamoja sub-regions.
Funds recovered (during 2016/ 17) – Followed up and recovered GAVI funds worth UGX 846,396,203 which was unaccounted for from 80 districts and UGX 13,266,848,127 meant for Polio and measles vaccination programs.
Funds recovered (August 2017): Recovered unaccounted for Baylor funds worth Ugx 13,058,981 in the Teso Region (i.e. Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Kaberamaido, Serere DLG, Vision Terudo in Ngora, and Kumi DLG)
Investigations and legal actions (2009 to date) – While conducting its routine operations, HMU registered total of 610 cases of which 249 have been prosecuted, 93 convicted, 14 acquitted, 42 cases dismissed, 36 handled administratively and 36 cases still pending.
Pay roll interventions (2009 to date) – HMU intervention enabled 7,586 health workers to access their full remuneration on pay roll, further testimony that HMU is very mindful and passionate about the welfare of health workers
Followed up and ensured salary payment of 50 staff of Mbarara RRH
Biometric Systems Study (2016 to 2017): HMU conducted a pilot study on effectiveness of Biometric Machines in addressing absenteeism in Naguru RRH, Iganga hospital, Luweero HC III and Mukono HC IV. Findings revealed an enhanced attendance of health workers and increase in the number of deliveries and major surgeries as a result
Infrastructure (2015 to date)
Recovered eleven (11) stolen hospital beds worth Shs.18,700,000 for Mulago Hospital;
Recovered stolen hospital beds worth Shs.19,250,000 for Kayunga district;
Recovered a fibre boat worth Sh.120,000,000 donated to support referral of maternal and child emergencies in Namayingo district;
Recovered a MoH vehicle worth Shs. 30 million;
Recovered an ambulance belonging to Wakiso HC IV;
Intervened and supported reconnection of water to Kiira HC III after 30 years of no water at the facility;
The list of achievements is much longer than this.
read more here: ChimpReports. This post is syndicated.