By Moses Kidandi
President Yoweri Museveni has called upon nurses, midwives and public servants to be patient with government regarding their salaries. He assured them that government is committed to gradually enhance the remuneration of public servants. He reminded them that salary increment cannot be done at the expense of the country’s development programmes because it is only having a better national economy that can guarantee the sustainability and progress of any nation.
Addressing people , majority of whom were nurses and midwives, at Kyamate Secondary School grounds in Ntungamo Municipality, to mark this year’s International Nurses Day, the President said it was not wise for government to spend the biggest proportion of the national revenue on salaries and forget to develop the country’s infrastructure that form the backbone of the national economic development.
Mr. Museveni at the same function advised civil servants to stop clamoring for comparable remuneration of all Civil Servants noting that government had made a decision to give enhanced payment to scientists to save the country from brain drain and called for patience from other Civil Servants assuring them that their payments will be enhanced as the country’s economy improved.
On the shortage of nurses in government hospitals, the President said that there was a shortage of public servants generally because of limited resources to meet their heavy wage bill. He cited the example of the Uganda Police Force, which by international policing standard of one policeman per 500,000 people, Uganda should be having a force 82,000 members of the police but currently the country has 43,000 members only.
“Let’s learn to live within our means and do what is affordable as we ensure minimum amount of growth. It is not wise to consume all that we produce. We shall hurt the economy and the country as a whole,” he advised.
“The economy is growing. You should not worry. The government will pay you better. Even when you are retired, with a good economy, your pension will be enhanced,” he added.
The President promised that government will give lunch allowance to all nurses and midwives in government hospitals as a way of motivating them and enhancing health service delivery.
On the large number of nurses coming out of nursing schools annually, the President welcomed the development noting that at the current population growth, Uganda will have a population of 100 million by 2050 that will require 100,000 nurses. He observed continued enrollment and training was necessary. He however called for specialized training of nurses with focus on the diseases that hurt the population most.
Health Minister, Ruth Aceng, who represented Minister of Education and Sports, Mrs. Janet Museveni, reported that her Ministry is studying the reported high tuition fees levied by nursing schools with a view to lowering them. She called for intense specialised training of nurses and midwives in the country and abroad to equip them with enough skills to take care of patients.
She commended the commitment of nurses and midwives in service delivery noting that their resolve and commitment has seen the country register commendable progress, especially in wresting down maternal and infant mortality rates.
The Chairman of the Uganda Nurses and Midwifery Union, Justus Cherop commended President Museveni and the government for the 30% salary enhancement to the nurses and midwives. He also lauded government for recognizing the good work of nurses and midwives evidenced by awarding them 71 medals. He called for more sponsorship of nurses and midwives to get specialized training and better their knowledge for quality service delivery.