Over 900 intern doctors have laid down tools over delayed allowances, paralysing services in health facilities. The strike started this week following Government’s failure to remit the interns’ October and November allowances to their accounts.
The intern doctors graduated from the universities as general practitioners with major competence in four disciplines including internal medicine, paediatrics and child health, obstetrics, gynaecology and surgery. The president of medical interns, Dr Joel Mirembe also listed down other demands which led to their strike. These include lack of medical supplies in health facilities, lack of accommodation and transport, among others.
According to a temporary appointment letter issued by the Ministry of Health, each intern is supposed to earn sh11,400,000 per year. Among other things, the letter states that the interns will be provided with accommodation when available in the residence mess.
Speaking in an interview, Mirembe said majority of doctors had been evicted from their rented houses due to non-payment while others were being raped citing an example of one who was raped in Kabale recently Miremebe said some interns were risking being hit by iron bar hitmen because they leave work late.
He noted that 80% of the interns are not accommodated, yet they are working 24 hours. They also complained of working overtime, yet they are not paid for this. The health ministry officials attributed the delay to hospitals, which delayed to submit the names and accounts of the medical interns, but said they had paid some of them.
When we contacted the interns, they said they had not received the allowances.
“This is a lame excuse, because it is the role of the health ministry to deploy interns, follow up through its established systems to ascertain the number of interns who reported and pay them on time,’’ Dr Cranima Turyakira said.
Sarah Opendi, the state health minister, said it is unfortunate that payments for medical interns had delayed, adding that they are working with the finance ministry to ensure that funds are released on time. Mulago Hospital’s administrator, David Niwamanya, said they expect interns to be paid latest next week.
“The strike has not affected us, we are currently using our doctors, nurses and house officers (doctors doing masters) to treat patients,’’ Niwamanya said. Officials at Kirruddu Hospital admitted that the allowances for medical interns had delayed, but the doctors were working