Don’t leave running of health facilities to interns, retaining bodies over non payment is illegal, President Museveni

Vice President Jessica Alupo represented President Museveni at a dinner for the 2022/2033 medical interns and others who recently completed their internship (PHOTO/Courtesy).

President Museveni has urged Doctors not to leave running of Health facilities to medical interns as doctors and Consultants run their private facilities. The President also warned health facilities over detaining dead bodies over non payment of dues, saying this is illegal.

“For example, at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, we witnessed extortion of desperate patients and even detaining of dead bodies because of unpaid medical bills. This is illegal”.

The President made the remarks in a speech read for him by Vice President Jessica Alupo, at a dinner for the 2022/2033 medical interns and others who recently completed their internship.

The dinner held at Serena Hotel, was attended by representatives of the association from all over the country.

The President said completion of the training in which they directly undertake, under supervision of specialists practical / hands on experience of cases converts theoretical knowledge into practical skills, experiences, competencies and professional attitudes.

In the past, this internship was limited to Doctors and Dentists, but is now extended to include graduate Pharmacists and Nurses / Midwives, some of whom were present, from the 1,747 medical interns.

The general 2022/2023 interns included 911 Medical Doctors and Dentists; 185 Pharmacists and 651 graduate Nurses and Midwives.

“I applaud the Universities for the increase of the Human Resources for Health for our job market. Uganda at 23 health workers (doctor, nurses and midwives) per 10,000 population is still far below the WHO target of 45/10,000. The doctors to the population ratio is even more miserable at 1.8/10,000 people. Records from our Councils actually indicate that we have only 8,000 Doctors and 97,326 Nurses & Midwives registered in Uganda. This is against a population of over 45 Million people. The Country, therefore, needs to produce more health workers”, the President remarked.

In the same vein, the President called upon Ministry of Education and Sports and the National Council for Higher Education to ensure quality of education in Health Training Institutions. “They must ensure we produce graduates who are not a danger to our population”, the President emphasized.

He pledged recruitment of doctors up to Health Centre 3s which are sub county based.

He said Government had also revised the Human Resource structures for all other levels of care up to the National Referral Hospitals to be filled in phases.

Museveni urged them to adhere to the Professional Ethics and Code of Conduct whether in private or public hospitals saying cases of negligence of patients, overcharging of patients, un-called for investigations and medical interventions for financial gain are wrong. “Your Profession is a calling to prevent sickness and to promote health; and to treat with compassion those that fall sick, not to exploit them. Unfortunately, in most cases you will be dealing with the vulnerable poor or those with chronic diseases that have drained their resources,” he stressed.

He directed the Ministry of Health and the professional Councils to increase vigilance on monitoring the Ethical and Professional conduct of the professionals.

The President saluted all the health workers in Uganda for what he called “heroic achievements” in combating COVID-19 and the recent Ebola breakout.

Earlier, the Vice President hailed the successes of UPE and USE where most of the interns were beneficiaries. “I congratulate you on concluding your internship, and credit the NRM Government for the policies like USE and the student loan scheme which enabled you get this far”, said Alupo.

She reitariated that the salary of all public servants would be enhanced across board, in a phased manner and welcomed the commitment of the doctors to serve deligently. This was in regard to the remarks by the President of the Association, Oledo Samuel who had pledged to serve with excellence at all costs. The Vice President welcomed the Doctors’ idea to seek leadership training at NALI.

At the start of the event, the Vice President joined the leadership of doctors to express support for the candidature of President Museveni in 2026. “I support the initiative and promise to walk with you all the way. Most world leaders wherever President Museveni has has delegated me like the African Union, and other meetings hold him in the highest regard and they view him as a rare leader”, Alupo said.

Dr. Ruth Aceng, represented by Dr. Ronny Bahutungire congratulated the interns on their resilience. “You have been trained sufficiently and must be ready for deployment especially in the countryside, as we seek to deal with the doctor-patient ratio” Aceng said, calling on them to keep their ethical code of conduct. “let’s treat our patients deligently and with humility”.

Dr. Samuel Oledo, the President of the Uganda Medical Association said they are committed to work timelessly and tirelessly to eliminate diseases, especially the Non Communicable diseases. He urged his fellow doctors to not take money from patients to treat them. “Let’s come together and do humanity for our people. Our profession is a blessing, let’s do God’s work and served deligently”, Oledu said. “We want you to be the best in service delivery”, he stressed.

He saluted the President for the salary enhancement and recognition of Scientists. He asked that the intern doctors salaries’ be increased from UGx 2.5m to UGX 3.000.000. Government recently increased internship salary from UGX700.000 to UGX 2.500.000. Oledo also requested for medical insurance for Doctors. He thanked the President for offering to take care of children of Doctors who succumbed to COVID-19.

Dr. Musa Lumumba, the Chair of the interns association said they are a team that seeks to contribute to the country,especially at the Health Centre 3s,where Government recommended deployment. “Our cohort will serve better and differently. We are ready. We won’t ask _tusaba Government etuyambe, twagala kugiyamba_ in reference to the popular rhetoric “ask not what your country can do for you…..”

He thanked Government for the different programs, including the loan scheme, Universal Secondary Education and the salary enhancement for some of the interns from UGX700.000ushs to UGX2.500.000

Various doctors received awards for outstanding service.

The leadership of the association also gave President Museveni a lifetime award for his exceptional leadership.

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