For more than two months now, Kenyan public sector doctors and nurses have been on a nationwide strike demanding for a 300% pay rise from their government as promised in a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed between their union and the government three years ago.
As expected, many Kenyans have suffered and many have lost lives during this period especially those who could not afford to pay for the overwhelmed private medical services.
In Uganda, there is no announced strike, but the public health sector is ailing and the medics have resorted to all kinds of unethical means to extort money from patients to cover up the gap caused by the poor pay by government, in addition to abandoning their duty stations for private work.
In Kenya, the striking medics are asking government to honor its promise so that the medical workers can commit their time and enjoy their profession as they serve their population. It’s common knowledge that in Uganda, a medical personnel works for a week and goes off duty the following week. So they work for barely two weeks in a month!
Two months ago, my close friend went to deliver at a public facility in Mukono district. She was informed that she had to undergo a caesarian section which cost Ugx 300,000 or she had to be referred in case she didn’t have the money. The husband had to look for this money in addition to footing bill of all sundries required for delivery.
This was not the first and last case, many mothers who would successfully be delivered normally end up being operated on because it is easier to justify the charges when a theatre operation is done than a normal delivery.
In health facilities where sundries like gloves, are lacking, how do you expect intensive care facilities like functional incubators, oxygen, and blood in case transfusion becomes necessary to be available?
Many unlucky mothers do not make it from these abhorrent operations just like my sister Ruth who passed on, a few hours after such an operation at Kisenyi health center IV under similar circumstances, living behind her 9 hours baby to suffer for the rest of its life!
For Kenyan medics, we know why they are striking and once that is given, there is commitment to resume work professionally. But for Uganda’s case we seem to be in a permanent state of suffering from a rotten health care system that has become a death trap to the citizens and no one seems to care as if all is well.