Despite assurances from the government, health workers have vowed to fight for their salary enhancement as per the collective bargain agreement and say they will carry out their planned industrial action on May 26.
Uganda has about 27,000 nurses working in the government health facilities, with at least 66,000 registered by the Nurses and Midwives Council.
The group made the vow on Thursday while marking the International Nurses Day which was held at Kamuli Youth Centre in Kamuli District.
The national celebrations, the first in two years due to the Covid-19 pandemic, were held under the theme ‘a voice to lead, invest in nursing and respect rights to secure global health’.
Mr Justus Cherop, the President Uganda Nurses and midwifes Union, reported that their core focus is strengthening recruitment and health research, empowering regional coordinators, creating a media centre for health nursing communication and creation of a conducive working environment.
“We are not about to get tired of demanding for our rights and salary enhancement as per the collective bargain agreement; and please take notice that our industrial action scheduled on May 26 is on,” Mr Cherop, who was backed by association members, said.
The minister for Public Service, Mr Muruli Mukasa, who represented President Museveni, however, assured the health workers that their concerns have been addressed in the 2022/2023 Financial Year budget.
Describing the President as “a key advocate for scientists”, Mr Muruli Mukasa said: “We have heard the many issues from the Nursing fraternity, and I can tell you that you have no better advocate than President Museveni himself who has been giving directives and making sure the entire health service gets salary enhancement.”
Mr Usher Wilson Owere from NOTU urged the government to invest in health workers and the sector in general.
“Investing in Nurses and Midwives saves lives, improves health and strengthens health systems. The Covid-induced lockdown brought to the fore the importance of investing in primary health care,” he added.
He further asked for government support towards the Nurses and health workers’ SACCO to mitigate exploitation from financial institutions.
The Kamuli district LC5 chairman, Mr Maxwell Kuwembula, challenged the government to come clean on its promises and pledges and clean out bureaucracy which he said stipples service delivery and demotivates civil servants.
“We are setting a bad precedent of procrastination, agreeing on things but taking long to implement them until people strike, which is dangerous. Let the government engage and fulfill its bargain for these nurses have been doing well even with the little,” he said.
Mr Kuwembula also reminded the government of infrastructure development funds for health units and schools, saying they risk being returned to the treasury as the financial year closes.