As the strike by doctors under umbrella organisation, Uganda Medical Association (UMA) continues in the public domain, foreign medical professional volunteers, joined by some from within the country have flocked Arua district to attend to patients.
The medics, assembled by Bulamu Healthcare International camped at Oli Health Centre IV starting 13 November to offer Arua residents free medical services.
Arua is just one of several regions the doctors have visited this year however, their team leader and president of Bulamu Healthcare International, Gerald Atwine says attendance has been over and above what they have registered in other districts.
Their team includes doctors, nurses, pharmacist, technicians, and administrative support personnel.
“We are also doing minor surgeries – hania, hemorrhoids and tumors can all be removed. We are up to the challenge,” Gerald Atwine remarked on Wednesday.
“It is the 6th time we are doing this but I can confidently tell you this is the biggest crowd we have ever had,” he said
“It has been exasperated by the industrial strike that doctors are on right now demanding better pay and working conditions from government. It will be two weeks this Friday,” he added.
Gerald Atwine said the initiative is set to cater for residents, who for some medical treatment would not even be an option but rather a distant fantasy due to the dire and impoverished situations that detail most remote areas.
“Rural areas like Arua don’t have enough health care providers. I think the doctor to patient ratio here is 1:40,000,” he said.
Gerald Atwine also attributed the enormous turn up to refugees coming in from Congo and south Sudan because the district is close to the country boarders.
One of the volunteers, Casey Jones, said Tuesday they “were overwhelmed by 1300 plus registered patients.”
Update on UMA Stike
On Thursday, President Museveni threated to sack all medical doctors currently on strike, “for failing the National Resistance Movement principle of managing scarce resources.”
Elsewhere, UPDF spokesperson, Brig Richard Karemire, confirmed to journalists that army doctors are yet to be deployed at the national referral hospital, Mulago.
He declined to specify when this deployment will happen, according to URN, urging “they will be deployed as soon as necessary logistics are put in place.”
As this strike enters the second week, Oposition leaders have criticized government for failing to come to terms with UMA doctors so as to call off the strike.
Kira Municipality MP and spokesperson of FDC, Ssemujju Ibrahim Nganda said on Thursday the total budget of the ministry of Health this financial year is Shs 971 billion, adding “the biggest percentage of this budget (Shs 892 billion) is donations from Europeans and Americans.”
“Removal of age limits is an emergency issue for this government,” Mr Nganda said.