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Increasing medical workers pay won’t improve health service delivery, says Mulago hospital boss

Increasing the salaries of medical workers won’t improve health service delivery in Uganda, the Mulago hospital executive director, Dr Byarugaba Baterana has said.

He made the remarks while engaging with the Parliament’s Health Committee this week. The remarks come at the backdrop of a recent sit-down strike by the medical interns over low pay and alleged poor working conditions.

The interns only called off the strike after the government promised to increase their monthly allowances to 2.5 million, 2million for pharmacists, and 1.5 for nurses/midwives.

Baterana, however, argues that to improve service delivery in the health sector, there is a need for government to put in place a law that prohibits government health workers from working in private hospitals.

“If you are to increase salary, you must also put in place regulations that if you work in government, do not work in private. Should we find you in private, we fine you,” Baterana suggested.

He went on to say that it is difficult to manage health workers and restrict them with the current standing orders.

“I have read the current standing orders from cover to cover but they are actually weak and cannot implement this. So what can a manager like me and other officers do?”

The Committee’s Deputy Chairperson, Yoweri Ssebakali, however, said that for such a policy to be implemented, the salaries should be satisfying.

“If a person is earning like 5M or a medical officer is earning 3.5M and you want to restrict him or her in one are, what about their children who go to school? I have been sending my children to school, but the lower schools take 2million per term? How do you expect a medical officer to pay school fees?” he asked.

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