Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /usr/www/users/urnnet/a/story.php on line 43 Administrators now Treat Patients as Health Workers Strike in Kitgum Hospital :: Uganda Radionetwork
As Kitgum Government Hospital increasingly struggles with emergency
cases due to the ongoing industrial action by a section of health workers, health administrators have retrieved their stethoscopes and white coats to practice what they were originally trained to do - saving lives.
The Allied Health Professionals, who include clinical
officers, laboratory staff, records officers, sonographers, radiographers,
anesthetists, dental technicians, clinical psychiatrists, and vector
controllers, countrywide, are on a sit-down strike. Only the Medical Officers,
midwives, nurses, and support and administrative staff are not striking.
The industrial action, which started on Monday, May 16th,
follows the failure of the government to honor its 2017 promise in the
Collective Bargaining Agreement to enhance the salaries of the striking
According to the agreement, it was agreed that health workers
with a diploma on the U5 scale would monthly earn 3 million shillings and
certificate holders on U7 scale would bags 1.3 million shillings. However, the professionals say the diploma
holders are still getting 1.2 million shillings and certificate holders earn
Besides low pay, the medical workers have been complaining of
failure to be absorbed in public service and poor working conditions. On April
25, they gave the government 21 days to respond to the above issues, or they lay
down their tools.
Monica Akello, the Senior Hospital Administrator at Kitgum
Government Hospital, says the ongoing industrial action has affected the
out-patient department most because many of the striking workers work in that
Akello says the Medical Superintendent and District Health
Officer have come in to save the situation, but the challenge remains that the
record takers are also striking.
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Akello reveals that the most affected group of people seeking
medical assistance at the hospital are children because they cannot persevere
ailments for long, and often come back as requiring emergency help.
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On May 4th, 2022, midwives and nurses through
their umbrella body, the Federation of Uganda Nurses and midwives also petitioned
parliament for a salary raise and have reportedly vowed to rise up on May 26th, if their demand is not met.
Akello fears that if the nurses also start striking before
government settles the issue of the Allied Health Professionals, then the
problem will become bigger.
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Dr. Geoffrey Okello, the Medical Superintendent of Kitgum
General Hospital workers under the Allied Health Professionals Association form
the bigger percentage of the workforce in the hospital and their absence at
work had broken the chain they gave the remaining workers.
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Okello says the strike has increased the workload on the
skeletal workers remaining, as the hospital receives over 300 patients daily in
the Outpatient department.
The hospital also has other entry points such as the mental
health unit, HIV clinic, eye clinic, antenatal, and orthopedics among others,
implying that the hospital receives an average of 500 patients daily.
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Kitgum government hospital serves a catchment population of
61,750 in 44 villages and 10,328 households in Kitgum municipality.
According to reports from the hospital, patients travel from
as far as Pader, Lamwo, Agago, Abim, Karenga, Kaabong, parts of Gulu district,
part of the Eastern Equatoria in the Republic of South Sudan, and a greater
population of the refugee settlement camp in Palabek Ogili sub-county in Lamwo
Despite the huge burden left because of the striking workers,
Titus Komakech, the chairperson Allied Health Professionals’ Association in
Kitgum, says they will stand their ground till government honors its 2017 CBA
agreement, or get a directive from the national team on what to do.