Health Services in Kalangala district remain paralyzed as a result of a medical workers strike now going through a second week. The health workers are protesting against a delay in payment of salaries and hardship allowances.
The strike continues even after an appeal by Kalangala district executive to the health workers to call off the strike as they carry out investigations into the cause of the delayed payments. The health workers have not been paid salaries for the last six months.
Willy Lugoloobi, the Kalangala District LC5 Chairman asked the health workers to rescind their decision and offer treatment to the hundreds of patients stranded at the health facilities. He said the district was working with Dr. Hillary Bitakalamire, the District Health Officer to address their grievances.
Frank Ssemakula, a resident of Kalangala says the strike has left dozens of patients stranded. He fears many people may die due to lack of medical attention.
But Edward Banda, one of the medical workers at Kalangala Health Centre IV says they resolved not to go back to work until the salaries and hardship allowances for the last six months are cleared.
Banda adds that in addition to working for long hours, they operate under difficult conditions yet their services are not recognized.
Another female medical officer at Kalangala health centre IV who preferred anonymity claims that Sarah Opendi, the State Minister for Health promised that they were supposed to be paid all their salaries for the previous months at the end of January. Another month has since elapsed with no payment made.
Dr. Hillary Bitakalamire, the Kalangala district Medical officer says he is aware of the strike. He however says he is negotiating with them to call off the strike because it has dire consequences on health service delivery.
Bitakalamire says he is also a victim of the ongoing clearance of payrolls that affected the salary disbursement.
Dr. Asuman Lukwago, the Permanent Secretary in the Health Ministry says he is working around the clock to rectify the anomalies.