The Minister for Health, Hon. Jane Ruth Aceng has revealed that government needs She80.4 billion for the deployment of pre-medical interns.
The minister made this revelation at a sitting chaired by Speaker Anita Among on Thursday, 22 June 2023.
Aceng’s statement contradicted the one by her counterpart, the State Minister for Finance, Hon. Henry Musasizi who had said that they had released Shs22.9 billion for the same purpose.
Aceng however, said that the Shs22.9 billion is not for the deployment of the 1,901 pre-medical interns but for payment of arrears of the 935 interns who completed their internship in April.
“For 1,901 interns, we require Shs80.4 billion to deploy them, and out of that money, the Finance Ministry gave us Shs8 billion for interns and Shs2 billion for senior house officers. So, we are not able to deploy [interns] until we are sure that the Shs80.4bn will be provided,” Aceng said.
The minister’s statement followed concern by the Speaker who urged the government to cater for pre-medical interns whose pay was budgeted for in the 2022/2023 financial year.
She said she was aware that the interns were not yet paid and deployed despite the pledge by the Finance Minister to pay them during the 2023 National Budget Day speech.
“I request that the 1,900 interns that we promised to pay on the Budget Day should be paid and redeployed. We cannot comfortably sit here when people are dying in hospitals because there are no doctors,” said Among.
Speaker Anita Among also asked the Ministry of Health to update the blood shortage in the country.
Among said the Federation of Health Professionals told her that there is a blood shortage at the National Blood Bank and that people in need of blood transfusion were at risk of losing their lives.
“Yesterday I met with the Federation of Health Professionals where one doctor told us that he recently looked for one liter of blood and it took him three hours to find it. This is dangerous; we cannot have a country and hospitals without blood,” said Among.
Legislators blamed the Ministry of Health for laxity in mobilization for blood donation, castigating it for failing to provide blood collection kits to MPs willing to mobilize their constituencies for blood donation.
“Most MPs had volunteered to mobilize their electorates to donate blood but the challenge is the lack of blood collection kits. You would mobilize over 500 people but the ministry would come with 100 kits; you end up sending away people willing to donate blood,” said Hon. Christine Nakimwero (NUP, Kiboga District).
Bukanga North County MP, Hon. Nathan Byanyima said that people are willing to donate blood and blamed the Health Ministry which he said is disinterested in their mandate to support blood donation.
Aceng said that despite the challenges of collecting sufficient blood, there is still blood in the blood banks.