Ekwaro Obuku, the Uganda Medical Association (UMA) president, told Xinhua that the conditions in the East African country do not warrant government to import Cuban medical specialists and consultants.
He said Uganda has over 1,500 specialist doctors registered with Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council who are ready to work in regional, district and rural hospitals following government commitments to enhance medical personnel remuneration and improved working conditions.
“With a new enhanced salary structure, increased budget allocation to National Medical Stores and reduced harassment by Health Monitoring Group, UMA expects improved attraction and retention of specialist doctors in hospitals upcountry,” Obuku said.
Sarah Opendi, Uganda’s state minister for health in charge of general duties, last week said government is in talks with Cuba to hire medical personnel who will be deployed in regional, district and rural government hospitals, shunned by local doctors.
Obuku said the comprehensive cost for importing Cuban doctors, which includes catering for their housing, transport, salary and security outweighs benefits.
“The language barrier creates the need for nurses and midwives as interpreters, which removes them from lifesaving duties merely to facilitate communication between Cuban doctor and Ugandan patient,” said Obuku.
“We appeal to government to immediately advertise 500 posts for specialist doctors with the terms offered to Cuban doctors in the regional, district and rural hospitals across the country and we pledge to mobilise Ugandan doctors to fill these up,” he said.
In November 2017, Uganda’s ministry of health mooted the idea to hire Cuban medical personnel during the doctors’ strike
following the government failure to respond to their calls for a salary rise and better working conditions in public hospitals.
The three-week nationwide industrial action paralyzed health service provision as doctors and medical interns stayed away from their duty stations.
The government later agreed to increase their pay and also address the concerns raised.