By Markson Omagor
Activities at Mbale Regional Referral Hospital have been paralyzed with Nurses refusing to work.
Nurses and midwives under their umbrella body Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) went on strike on May 4th 2021 over lunch allowances estimated at Shs70b until the money is included in the 2021/2022 financial year budget.
When our reporter visited Mbale Regional Referral Hospital yesterday, patients were seen unattended to as Wards were practically devoid of any Medical staff.
In a meeting with Nurses and Midwives also held yesterday to mitigate effects of the strike, the Hospital Director, Dr. Emmanuel Tugaineyo only managed to convince In Charges to be available in the Wards to handle highly demanding emergencies.
A source that attended the meeting intimated to this reporter that the Nurses and Midwives vowed not to go back to work until they hear from their Union.
“The Director only managed to convince the In-Charges to avail themselves to handle emergencies,” the source revealed to this reporter.
He also said Doctors and other Para-Medics can’t work without the Nurses so the situation is really alarming.
A senior Nursing Officer this reporter spoke to also confirmed the strike saying the Nurses have abandoned the Wards.
“Am out of the Station right now but am told the Wards are abandoned with no Nurses to attend to patients and help Doctors who are not on strike to carry out their duties,” she said.
One of the patients, Zaituna Nalubega this reporter interviewed said she reported to the hospital at 10:00PM but was only attended to at 4:00AM.
“When I reported to the Ward, I found no nurses and the only one who was there advised us to try private facilities because they had laid down their tools in demand of their lunch allowances,” Zaituna said.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Health has dismissed reports that the Ministry diverted the money meant for lunch allowance for the Nurses.
In a letter dated 6th May 2021, Dr. Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Health said the allegations are baseless, unfounded and malicious.
“Budget estimates for lunch allowance was worked out, however the implementation was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic which constrained the resource envelope,” Atwine said.
Atwine further explained that the MOH did not receive any money meant for lunch allowance arguing that the MOH can’t divert any money without the knowledge of Ministry of Finance.
She promised that the MOH, Public Service and Finance are working out a sustainable solution to the issue of lunch allowances.