The president of the Uganda Medical Association has expressed support for medical workers who have taken industrial action, accusing the government of not creating a safe working environment for them to handle the ongoing Ebola outbreak.
Dr Sam Oledo, the president of the professional grouping of all medical workers in the country says that while doctors are dedicated to keep offering care, they need to be safe first.
“Health workers are demotivated and worried. All the medical workers in the Ebola hot spots must have the safety kit.”
“They have to be fully dressed up in a mask, goggles, apron, rubber boots, and double surgical gloves. In the first days of the outbreak several of our colleagues were exposed to the virus. Two medics who worked on a surgical case and are now showing symptoms of Ebola,” Dr Oledo said.
At least seven medical workers have potentially been exposed to the virus.
Dr Oledo added that the striking interns need to be assured of a risk allowance.
“The risk allowances even for health workers who handled Covid-19 were never paid. This is worse, and yet there are no resources available,” he said.
He also said that the Ebola hot spots should be put under quarantine to avoid further spread.
He argued that the government needs to allocate resources to take care of staff recruitment, because hospitals in the areas facing the outbreak have very lean staff, adding, “let there be a structure for disease and epidemic control in hospitals. There should be teams which are consistently there in case of an outbreak.”
The health ministry is expected to meet with the medical workers on Tuesday afternoon to look at a way forward, even though a ministry spokesperson told the BBC on Monday that there was no strike at Mubende hospital, east of the capital, Kampala, which is hosting the main Ebola isolation centre.
An outbreak of the Ebola Sudan strain was declared in the central region of the country last week. At least 36 cases have been recorded, 23 of which ended in death.