By Our Reporter/Parliament
The Parliament of Uganda has approved a recommendation from its health committee to have the budget for medical interns raised from sh13.5b to sh35b starting next financial year.
According to the report presented by the health committee chairperson Dr. Michael Bukenya on Thursday. It was premised on a petition from the Federation of Uganda Medical Interns presented to Parliament last October by Mukono South MP Johnson Muyanga Ssenyonga.
Parliament has also asked the Government to expeditiously process a supplementary budget of sh17b for enhancing the pay for medical interns in the current financial year.
The petition sought the intervention of Parliament in addressing challenges of training, service delivery, and welfare, which junior health workers are facing.
Dr.Bukenya Micheal said unlike interns in other professions, medical interns do theirs after they have completed their degrees and, therefore, need special treatment.
“Medical interns unlike other categories of interns serve as frontline health workers world over and are regarded as public servants for the duration of their internship,”
Dr.Bukenya said. Uganda medical interns have in the past several times laid down their tools in protest against poor working conditions and poor remuneration.
The committee said whereas the number of medical interns has been increasing over the years as a result of the increase in the number of universities training medical workers, their budget has not been increasing accordingly.
The report indicates that the number of medical interns has been growing gradually from about 200 in 2000 to about 1,170 today.
The committee said whereas the World Health Organization recommended the doctor-to-patient ratio is one doctor per 600 patients, in Uganda the ratio is one doctor per 24,000 people.
The committee said the current gross pay of sh940,000 for a medical intern, which results in a net pay of sh700,000 is not enough for one to meet various basic expenses.
If the Government implements parliament’s recommendation, intern doctors and pharmacists will each be earning a gross salary of sh3m and intern nurses’ sh2.2m.
The speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga said Parliament has always advocated the improvement of health facilities and remuneration for medical workers.
Leader of Opposition Betty Aol Ocan said the Government needs to increase the health sector budget to 15% of the national budget as recommended in the 2001 Abuja Protocol.