Instead, the President promised land on which the doctors can build a house for their Savings and Credit Society Organisation (Sacco) projects to which he offered Shs5 billion.
President Museveni has again rejected the demand by doctors for a pay rise. Instead, the President promised land on which the doctors can build a house for their Savings and Credit Society Organisation (Sacco) projects to which he offered Shs5 billion.
After listening to a plea by the President of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), Dr Fred Bisso, making a case for a pay rise, the President lectured the doctors on prioritisation for economic transformation.
“In planning as a State, we need to focus on strategic investments that need a one-time expenditure yet have an influence on the system,” President Museveni said.
He added: “Educated people like you (doctors) must address these bottlenecks in a prioritised way. When we are discussing priorities, we need to focus on those that don’t need recurrent expenditure like salaries.”
The President was speaking at a dinner organised by UMA and other specialist associations after a three-day scientific conference, where medical practitioners came up with resolutions on how to improve the quality of health service delivery in the country.
The resolutions outlined by the chairperson of the conference organising committee, Dr Richard Idro, included better facilitation of medical workers.
UMA president, Dr Bisso, then remarked that government has been making investments in other sectors while ignoring the health sector.
“You can’t afford to keep ignoring the health sector because it is the one that keeps people alive, healthy and productive,” Dr Bisso said.
However, the President citing an example of security, said in 1991 the government took a decision to demoblise and reduce the size of the army which then stood at 100,000 soldiers, after it had become untenable to carter for their demands.
In that period, he said, government focused on buying fighting equipment which have kept Uganda peaceful and safe.
“We remained with 40,000 soldiers but spent more money on buying tanks which are more lethal than spending more money on break tea for soldiers,” the President said.
President Museveni said handling critical sectors like road network, power dams and the railway, which don’t need recurrent expenditure, in a prioritized way was better than the civilians cry of “nyote ni nzuri.”
“You must do one thing at a time. Even God in the book of Genesis, first created the earth before he created a human being because he saw that after creating the earth it needed someone to look after it,” the President said.
The President’s rejection of the doctors’ demand for salary enhancement comes at a time when government is grappling with a-two-weeks’ strike by non-teaching staff that has paralysed operations at five public universities.
The Public Universities’ Non-Teaching Staff Executive Forum (PUNTSEF) is protesting government’s reneging on its promise to enhance their pay so that it’s at par with salaries of teaching staff.
Puntsef raises its arguments basing on September 3, 2015 President’s directive that non-teaching staff salaries in all public universities would be enhanced starting 2016/2017 academic year.
At the dinner, the President blamed all the challenges faced by the medical professionals on the weakness of the NRM Secretariat, which does not interact with different cadres in the country, and also poor planning on the side of the health ministry.
During his address that turned into a two-hour lecture on the economy, President Museveni asked the doctors to look at alternative welfare solutions like; savings (Sacco), schools for educating their children and shops where they can buy subsidised goods like in the army.
“Our soldiers get little money but their children go to schools because we built schools in barracks, therefore the Ministry of Health should work on special programmes, especially non-recurrent ones like Sacco where government makes a contribution once.”
Concluding his speech, the President said in the next financial year 2017/2018, government will budget for Shs5b as his contributions to the medical doctors’ Sacco and also promised them land for the association’s development projects.
Doctors’ past strikes
In the recent years, doctors especially, interns at Mulago and other referral hospitals have demonstrated against the government’s failure to pay their allowances on time. Last month, senior doctors petitioned the Speaker of Parliament decrying poor working conditions and asked the institution to help pass a series of allowances. In 1995, doctors at Mulago went on strike and the government responded by arresting union leaders and also ordered military doctors to staff the emergency rooms.