Ministry of Health (MOH) has asked the current group of medical interns on 2019/2020 training program to report to stations where they were posted and start their internship exercise or go back home.
The warning follows an early Monday morning strike by intern doctors who claimed that their working conditions are poor and MOH has not heeded to their requests.
According to Dr Romeo Okudi, the Vice President of Federation for Uganda Medical Interns they have always written to MOH raising many issues affecting them as health workers but they have received a deaf ear.
“Ministry of Health has adamantly refused to respond to us. They have gone ahead to force us to pick appointment letters, giving deadlines and most our colleagues were even harassed. Last time we informed them that we are not going to report to work unless they respond to us but they have gone ahead to implement the policies that we don’t want,” he told journalist during a walk to Parliament to present their petition to the Speaker,.
But Dr Olaro Charles, the Director of General Health Services said they must adhere to the current condition because their number is big the MOH does not determine, nor control, the number of students admitted for the various medical courses in universities. Therefore they have to use the limited resources available.
This year, interns totaling want a pay rise and accommodation, a demand Olaro says cannot be fulfilled because ‘they are students and not civil servants who are recruited through systems.’
“Medical interns are not civil servants because they have not been recruited through the formal recruitment system and therefore cannot earn a salary. They are still undergoing apprenticeship training. After which, those who qualify can register as medical doctors and obtain a practising licensing to be able to apply for formal recruitment,” he said in a document circulated on Monday.
Olaro clarified that MOH only pays interns allowances to facilitate their apprenticeship.
“The current allowance paid to the medical interns is what is available in the MoH medium-term expenditure framework, taking into consideration the very high number of the medical interns,” he noted.
Interns also complained of inadequate accommodation in some training sites but according to Olaro, an accommodation allowance has always been incorporated into the Monthly allowance given to them.
This because they are few hospitals that provide internship training in terms of infrastructure and capacity, yet currently there is a big number of interns that are being released from the universities.
“We would like to clarify that until the late 1990s, a medical internship was only for medical doctors and dental practitioners with manageable numbers usually less than 300 in total. The internship training sites then would provide accommodation and meals.
Since then several other health workers have joined the internship training program (Graduate Nurses, Midwives, and Pharmacists). Besides many new medical schools have sprung up releasing over 1,000 graduates per year that require internship training and the few facilities we have can’t afford what our interns request for,” said Olaro.
He however, advised those interested in doing an internship, to report to stations where they were posted to start their internship exercise as the ministry plans for their requests.
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