URN.Patrick Dennis Alibu, the Secretary-General of the Uganda Medical Lab Technology Association, says had put the Ministry of Public Service on notice over this strike three weeks ago but didn’t get feedback prompting them to lay down tools.
The Archbishop of the Church of Uganda, the Most Rev. Dr. Stephen Samuel Kaziimba Mugalu has advised the government to enter serious dialogue with doctors to avoid any further crisis in health facilities posed by sit-down strikes.
“If ever there was a time when we needed all doctors working, it is now. The issues before us are not impossible to solve, so I call on all stakeholders to be willing to sit down and talk through the differences and bring resolution to all the concerns,” said Kaziimba while delivering his Christmas message at his residence in Namirembe on Wednesday.
Recently, medical interns across the country laid down their tools to protest none payment of their allowances. Senior doctors also joined the strike protesting the delayed payment of their allowances and salaries.
As the government partially resolved the concerns of this section of medical practitioners, Laboratory technicians under their umbrella, the Uganda Medical Lab Technology Association also announced industrial action.
Patrick Dennis Alibu, the Secretary-General of the Uganda Medical Lab Technology Association, says had put the Ministry of Public Service on notice over this strike three weeks ago but didn’t get feedback prompting them to lay down tools.
The laboratory professionals told journalists that their efforts to serve in the health sector haven’t been recognized by the government. They also noted that even as many of them have advanced in their studies to attain degrees and PhDs, the government still pays them an entry salary of Shs1.2million.
Alibu says that this money is the same as earned by diploma holders and lab assistants who earn a take-home salary of Shs800, 000 and yet many of his colleagues went back to study when Makerere University started degree courses in 1998 followed by Mbarara University of Science and Technology -MUST in 2000.
This new strike also involves technicians working in blood banks and the six government reference laboratories. According to statistics by Allied Health Professionals Council, there are about 13,000 registered lab professionals with 10,000 in active service. Now, Archbishop Kaziimba says that government needs to enter serious dialogue with medical practitioners.
He says that no one knows when the COVID-19 pandemic will end, saying there is a need to learn from it and leave to live with it given that the new variant-Omicron is causing big challenges all over the world. He encouraged Ugandans to continue receiving the COVID-19 vaccines and follow all the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to enable the country’s economy to fully re-open.
The Archbishop also noted that the COVID-19 lockdown has exposed the silent pandemic of Gender-based violence (GBV) in families. He said that there has been a huge increase in teenage pregnancies during the pandemic warning and it’s likely that many of the affected girls will not return to school next year.
“This is tragic. But, the problem isn’t a crisis of promiscuous daughters. The problem is a crisis of male family members raping and exploiting their own daughters. To our girls and daughters, I ask your forgiveness for the men in your family who have shown such selfishness and cruelty. I want to assure you that God’s love for you has not stopped. As a Church, we will do everything we can to support you in your healing and in caring for your baby. In Jesus, there is Hope beyond Affliction,” Kaziimba said.
He called upon churches, to focus on mentoring the boy-child so that they grow up to reflect the heart of God for all people, a heart that recognizes girls and daughters as special human beings, not objects to use and discard. Kaziimba also asked churches to develop programs that teach boys to grow up into men who show respect, honor, compassion, and mercy to all people, especially girls and women.
As Christmas day approaches and the new year 2022, Kaziimba announced that the Church of Uganda theme for the year 2022 will be “Hope Beyond Affliction” based on Lamentations 3:21-24.
“We have faced many challenges this year; we might even think of some of them as afflictions. But, I call on every Ugandan to take time during this Christmas season to think about the impact the birth of Jesus has had on the world and on history. Only Jesus can give us the hope we need. A hope that will carry us beyond our various afflictions,” said the Archbishop.