Doctors Strike: Ugandan army, police yet to deploy at hospitals

Doctors Strike: Ugandan army, police yet to deploy at hospitals
UPDF medical doctors at work in Somalia recently. Courtesy Photo.

Medical doctors from the Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF), Police and Prisons have not yet arrived at Mulago, Kiruddu and Kawempe hospitals to take over provision of medical services from the striking doctors.

We visited the three health facilities and there were no doctors from the forces providing health services. As early as 8:00am, patients had started arriving while those who slept at these health facilities were waking up.

After the meeting with striking medics stalled on Wednesday, minister of Health Dr Jane Ruth Aceng said he notified President Yoweri Museveni who authorised the ministry’s request to have doctors from armed forces deployed to attend to patients.

UPDF spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, confirmed to this publication that army doctors have not been deployed.

“We are not yet there. They will be there when necessary logistics have been put in place. Some of them are coming from up country, we will provide them with some support to enable them do their work,” Brig Karemire said.

Brig Karemire declined to specify when this deployment will happen. He says “they will be deployed as soon as necessary logistics are put in place.”

Brig Karemire says the UPDF will dispatch about 10 doctors. “We cannot raise the number, we have a small team of about 10 doctors, they will come in to help the civilian doctors who are there working.”

The Uganda Prisons spokesperson Frank Baine also told this publication that the deployment of their medics “will happen anytime.”

He couldn’t specify the number of medics they will deploy. Baine says the prisons medical services department will look at its human resource before making a decision on the number to send.

The Uganda Police spokesperson Emilian Kayima did not pick calls for a comment on deployment of police medics.

However, minister Aceng insists that the medics have been deployed.

“Can you call the director of Mulago and inquire from him where they have been deployed? They have come but I am not on ground,” she said when this publication contacted her.

Mulago’s executive director Dr Baterana Byarugaba phone number is currently unavailable.

Under their umbrella of Uganda Medical Association (UMA), doctors laid down their tools to push government for better working conditions.

Government instead reacted by ordering them to report to work immediately or risk losing their jobs. The government, through Minister Aceng, also said UMA is not a registered workers union and therefore the strike organised under its name is illegal.