KAMPALA – Medical Intern doctors under their umbrella body; Federation for Uganda Medical Interns (FUMI) have Implored Parliament to come to their aid on what they termed as ‘demoralizing interns’ welfare’ with poor pay topping key concerns.
Interns claim that they are fully-fledged doctors, offering frontline services but remain sidelined when it comes to payment.
“We receive the least salary compared to our counterparts in East Africa such as Kenya where they earn a net pay of UGX 5.5million,” said Dr. Herbert Luswata, an intern at Kirrudu Hospital.
Dr. Luswata added that “surprisingly a medical intern in Uganda earns UGX 750,000 which is not even half of the public service salary scale”.
He said his colleagues want the government to pay them a monthly salary of UGX3m which is equivalent to the Public Service salary basic salary of U4.
Interns appeared before Parliament’s Health Committee meeting on Tuesday, October 29, emphasizing that their quest for pay raise is further justified by the long working hours.
“The 36 working hours call makes us unproductive, you work the whole day, the entire night and the next day without any rest, besides most facilities do not accommodate us so you are onward for all these hours,” said Dr. Agatha Namuwonge, an intern at Mulago Hospital.
Alongside the pay raise, interns asked Parliament to negotiate with the Ministry of Health to provide them accommodation close to health facilities.
The current practice is that interns are housed based on the availability of accommodation at a particular facility but they are aggrieved that only 20% of their colleagues is being accommodated, leaving the largest percentage having to bear all living costs on the UGX750,000 which they considered insufficient.
This narration compelled Members of Parliament to propose a policy on an internship in the country to standardize terms of engagement for all interns countrywide.
The Health Committee chairperson, Dr. Micheal Bukenya pledged to raise interns’ concerns to Parliament when it resumes sittings on Wednesday 30 October 2019.
Robina Ssentongo, the Kyotera District woman MP, expressed disappointment with the government’s failure to cater for accommodation and salary for medical intern doctors despite the fact that they are qualified and offer critical services. “It is a shame that we are giving future doctors of this country such a foundation, interns are already qualified, and they should be paid a salary,” she said.
The Rubabo County MP, Mary Paula Turyahikayo, observant of the poor relationship between interns and Ministry of Health proposed the need to bridge this gap saying “even If we develop an internship policy, it’s implementation will be hard if there is no harmonized relationship with Ministry of Health”