UGANDA: $100 MILLION SPENT ON “MEDICAL TOURISM” CAN PAY STRIKING MEDICAL DOCTORS-JOACHIM BUWEMBO

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Dictator Museveni, who is reported to have siphoned off $230 million to an off-shore account in the Cayman Islands, displays his cows to Ugandans.

 

“Without reducing the number of actually sick beneficiaries of its medical tourism expenditure (we don’t want to completely annoy the powerful managers of our natural resources), government can just cut out their shopping allowances and the non-vital joyriders who accompany them, and pay well doctors in hospitals who treat the vast majority of unconnected Ugandans”, says Mr. Buwembo.

 

“Minus 52 Sundays and a dozen public holidays, Uganda pays one million dollars every three days of the year to take members of lucky families and their companions on medical adventures abroad. Half of that (50 million dollars) could raise each of the striking 1,500 doctors’ monthly salary by $30,000 dollars per doctor”.

 

GULU-UGANDA:  Industrial strikes by medical doctors who work in government hospitals has entered its third week, thereby paralyzing works in government health facilities across the country.

As if that is not bad enough for Uganda, industrial strikes by public prosecutors have entered its second month bringing congestions in our detention facilities like prisons and police stations since suspects of criminal nature cannot be produced before court without these striking prosecutors.

Industrial strikes are not new to government who has always dealt with them in ad hoc manner. Those who held industrial strikes before include teachers of primary schools, lecturers in institutions of higher learning, non-teaching staffs at public universities; nurses and midwives; among others.

Each time strike occurs; government negotiates with the umbrella body of those striking and has always partly fulfilled their demands.

Ugandans have been discussing the strikes by medical doctors on social media a lot lately and many blame government for encouraging such strikes instead of dealing with the problem of salary disparities in public sector comprehensively and head-on.

According to one commentator on social media, Mr. Joachim Buwembo, Uganda government spends between $100million-$300 million dollars annually on “medical tourism” for VIP’s families to travel abroad to seek medical services, yet the total amount government budgeted for health services in the current financial year is a paltry $0.5million dollars.

 

“Without reducing the number of actually sick beneficiaries of its medical tourism expenditure (we don’t want to completely annoy the powerful managers of our natural resources), government can just cut out their shopping allowances and the non-vital joyriders who accompany them, and pay well doctors in hospitals who treat the vast majority of unconnected Ugandans”, says Mr. Buwembo.

 

He says the 1,500 striking doctors who work in government health facilities need a maximum of $50 million dollars to satisfy their needs but Uganda pays one million dollars every three days of the year to take members of lucky families and their companions on medical adventures abroad.

“Minus 52 Sundays and a dozen public holidays, Uganda pays one million dollars every three days of the year to take members of lucky families and their companions on medical adventures abroad. Half of that (50 million dollars) could raise each of the striking 1,500 doctors’ monthly salary by $30,000 dollars per doctor”, asserts Mr. Buwembo.

There has been mixed reactions from government. In fact, Mr Museveni has ordered military and police medical officers to immediately replace the striking health workers in hospitals across the country. The two institutions have however responded by inviting members of the public to seek treatment in their health facilities instead. While dictator Museveni issued threats of dismissal from government payroll, the minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng is using a softer language of appeal.

 

“Government appeals to all medical doctors to return to work immediately as their concerns are being addressed”, appeals Dr. Aceng.

 

The highest workers in public institutions includes the Governor of Bank of Uganda, Mr. Emmanuel Tumusiime Mutebile who earns colossal shs.50 million (about $14,000 dollars); Ms. Jennifer Musisi of Kampala Capital City Authority who earns shs.43 million (about $12,000 dollars); Ms. Doris Akol of Uganda Revenue Authority who earns shs.40 million (about $11,000 dollars); Mr. Richard Byarugaba of National Social Security Fund, who earns shs.39 million (about $10,800 dollars); and Mr. Robert Kabusenga of the Vision Group who earns shs.37.3 million (about $10,277 dollars a month.

 

While those managers of government corporate bodies earn in tens of millions of shillings, their counterparts, who have the same qualifications, but are in government ministries earn far less.

An intern doctor, for instance earns just shs. 960,000 (about $270 dollars). The striking doctors want him moved to shs.8.5 million (about $2360 dollars per month). The lowest public prosecutor who earns shs.645, 000 is now demanding shs.9 million ($2,500 dollars).

 

The committee tasked to review salaries for public servants has proposed big increases for different categories, which if effected will more than double the wage bill from the current shs.3.5 trillion (about $97.2 million dollars) to shs.6.4 trillion (about $177 million dollars).

The committee, which is supposed to submit its report at the end of November 2017, is intended to eliminate pay disparities and ensure pay enhancement across the public sector.

“It is not necessary to go on industrial action. I am on your side. I want scientists, pilots, doctors and other professionals to get what they would earn in the market if they were working outside the country”, says Museveni, in a softer voice.

According to a leaked report by a German publication, The Suddeutsche Zeitung, Dictator Museveni has siphoned away $230 million dollars from Uganda and banked it in an off-shore account at the Cayman Islands. 

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