The Minister for Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng has reiterated a recent directive to health workers under the Covid 19 response programme to vacate all National and Regional Referral hospitals.
In a letter dated March 18, 2022, the Permanent Secretary Dr.Diana Atwine addresses all executive and hospital directors at National Referral Hospitals that staff working under the Emergence Response to Covid 19 unit should leave by March 30, 2022.
The letter further explains that the decision was reached at following financial constraints faced by the Ministry in addition to low Covid 19 cases.
Following this directive, health workers under their umbrella of Uganda Medical Association (UMA) responded with a protest giving government an ultimatum of one week effective today to retract their statement.
UMA President, Dr. Samuel Oledo, says despite the termination, the health workers have not received salaries for the past five months and no risk allowances for six months.
He adds that in November 2021 notice by the Health Service Commission hospitals were notified about a validation process with assurances to health workers that they would be deployed in various health institutions across the country.
However, Aceng says that the health workers can’t cling to the job because of non-payment. She, however, acknowledged that some of them are demanding arrears of up to six months.
The Ministry of Health hired up to 700 health workers under the emergency response to help in the fight against COVID-19. These included anesthesiologists, lab professionals and nurses among others.
It’s not clear how many of these are being laid off but Aceng says they will slowly be absorbing the health workers as funds become available.
For now, she says they have directed hospital directors to ensure that the outgoing teams hand over government property that was in their possession.