SIR â€” Doctors, nurses, teachers, police officers and soldiers are professionals who should be respected and appropriately rewarded by any government. This is because they protect and save the lives of our citizens, including government officials.
All these professions have a direct effect on the welfare of the people. In my view, however, doctors and nurses play a more critical role of treating the sick. They therefore need to be well-facilitated in order to do a good job. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Medical workers are the only category of educated professionals I know who engage in what one may term as â€œmenial labourâ€.
While the majority of professionals use their brains to do their duties, medical workers use both their brains as well as their hands.
Since 1986, when the NRM came to power, medical staff in this country have had to resort to strikes more than five times because of poor remuneration and working conditions.
The recent strike by Mulago hospital postgraduate doctors is one among the many we have witnessed and are likely see more strikes in future if the problem of inadequate remuneration is not addressed. It has become a kind of custom that in order for them to be listened to by the government, they have to first go on strike.
Most of our doctors in whom government invests a lot of resources during training, end up practising in Europe and America where they are well-paid.
We continue to export medical workers as if Uganda has enough of them! I am fully aware that Ugandaâ€™s income is still low but we must learn to prioritise our needs in the most suitable manner.
Besides, it is not enough to increase the salaries of medical workers without increasing the health budget, such that the health centres are equipped with not only motivated staff, but also the patients who visit these health facilities will find medicine and appropriate equipment.
With increased health spending we shall avoid unnecessary strikes, which are normally more costly to the nation in terms of death of patients and man-hours lost by the striking personnel.
Sam Stewart Mutabazi
Action Group for health Human Rights and HIV/AIDS (AGHA)
Why must doctors first strike?