The Speaker of Parliament, Jacob Oulanyah says that his office has kicked off meetings with the Ministry of Finance to ensure that money appropriated for medical interns is disbursed, among others.
Oulanyah made the statement in his communication during the Thursday afternoon plenary sitting that was scheduled to receive and debate a motion from the Shadow Minister of Health, Timothy Batuwa Lusala, regarding the ongoing strike by the intern and medical doctors.
Like their seniors, medical interns laid down their tools over low salaries, compensating families of doctors that succumbed to COVID-19 in line of duty, working with limited tools such as sundries and personal protective equipment in addition to constant drug stock-outs in hospitals.
The doctors are also protesting the health ministry’s decision to evict all medical interns from their training health facilities.
It’s in the light of the above action that the MP presented a motion seeking a resolution of Parliament urging government to rescind the directive requiring medical interns to vacate government hospital facilities and to address concerns leading to the medical interns’ strike.
“We have had meetings today, we are continuing to have meetings tomorrow with the Permanent Secretary/Secretary to Treasury to find out how far they have gone with the release of money which we passed, part of which was supposed to take care of issues that are in this motion,” Oulanyah told MPs.
He noted that one of the prayers in the motion regarding payment of allowances for medical interns was discussed and it is being handled.
State Minister for Finance Henry Musasizi confirmed that Parliament appropriated shs.35.2 billion under the a supplementary budget to take care of allowances and salaries of medical interns together with the senior staff.
He said that there is an ongoing process to have the money disbursed and that the Ministry on Thursday received a formal request from the Ministry of Health for the funds.
Musasizi said that the payments were to now reach the beneficiaries before December 25.
Oulanyah added that he had received information that intern leaders are also meeting with the Director-General of Health Services tomorrow regarding the demand to rescind the directive requiring medical interns to vacate government hospital facilities.
Chris Baryomunsi, the Minister of Information explained that there have been engagements and that the leadership of the Forum of Interns Executive Committee approached the Ministry of Health and requested for a meeting which was granted.
He confirmed that the intern leaders shall on Friday have a meeting with the Director-General Health Services and that it will also be attended by the leadership of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) to discuss the current issues.
In light of the ongoing engagements, Oulanyah deferred the Opposition motion to Tuesday next week with a view of ascertaining progress made and gaps.
With doctors and interns on strike, medical services in hospitals are being offered by skeletal staff mostly consisting of senior health officials.
With the pending eviction, the doctors say they will withdraw such services and leave hospitals with no doctors on call.