PHOTOS: Medical Students’ Demonstration Exposes Uganda’s Ailing Health Sector

A group of over 1, store 000 medical students from all universities throughout the country have Thursday afternoon staged a demonstration at the Ministry of Health demanding an explanation over internship payment.

The students from Makerere, ed Mbarara University of Science and Technology, troche Gulu   and Kampala International University led by their  president Fauzi Kavuma  said  a new policy has been orchestrated  in which only government- sponsored  students will be catered for during  their one-year internship period which they say is unfair.

“We are supposed to have started our internship in the different hospitals but up to now we don’t know what next because the Ministry has refused to clear the air on the issue of payments during the period,” said Kavuma.

“We were told that starting this year, no private students will be paid for internship yet our brothers and  sisters on government sponsorship  are well catered for which is unfair because we do the same work. We demand that all students be paid for the one year they spend on internship in government hospitals.”

The group which stormed the Health Ministry headquarters in Wandegeya demanding to meet the Minister Ruth Aceng and the Permanent Secretary Asuman Lukwago said they could not continue working in hospitals without anything to eat on top of sleeping in corridors yet they do services beneficial to government and the public at large.

The intern students argue that accommodation and food allowances ought to be provided to them because they do most of the work in hospitals as they assist doctors and nurses.

“Interns do 90 percent of the work yet the doctors in the hospitals do almost nothing. Government should start treating us as human beings because many lives of patients depend on our services. We have tried to have dialogues with officials from the ministry but have yielded nothing,” said Joel Mirembe, from Mbarara University.

The prospective doctors said government must stop overlooking their grievances
The prospective doctors said government must stop overlooking their grievances

Compulsory Service


The students also claimed there is a new policy by the Ministry to force all public sponsored students to work in government health facilities for at least for two years which they say is unfair to them.

Government recently announced plans to recruit over 10,000 health workers in hard-to-reach areas but only 4,000 applied.

They say this forced government to put in place a policy that would require every sponsored student after internship to be employed in a health centre IV in a hard to reach area for at least two years.

“It is not that we don’t want to work in those areas but government needs to improve the standards of living for us in those areas. Government should at least make life in those areas attractive to medics and no one will reject going there,” said Brian Kasagga from Makerere University.

Healthy system that works for all

“We should have a health system that works for everyone, right from patients to health workers. The moment health workers are not well catered for; don’t expect us to do the same to patients.”

The Commissioner for Health Services in the Health Ministry, Dr Anthony Mbonye however met and spoke to the students, assuring them that their problems are being solved.

“The National Internship Committee will convene tomorrow chaired by myself and discuss issues in regards to your payments. Otherwise all you are hearing are just rumors,” Dr. Mbonye told the students.

“We value your work as interns and we are interested in your services. Government is interested in making sure you are happy and satisfied with your job,” he added.

Chimpreports understands that after completion of their 5-year courses at university, the students who are now trained nurses, doctors and surgeons among other medics are mandated to do a one year internship course in government hospitals and health centers in a bid to get certified by government.

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