In a bid to eliminate the practice of medical workers in public facilities running private ventures as a way of supplementing their low income, President Yoweri Museveni has ordered for increased pay for government scientists and closure of all privately-owned pharmacies in public health facilities. I
The President released a statement on Wednesday saying he had directed the Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng to effect the closure.
I have directed the health minister to oversee the closure of all privately-owned pharmacy shops in government health centres. I am told that those pharmacies are owned by health workers. Instead of prescribing the use of government medicine, they prescribe their own drugs.
— Yoweri K Museveni (@KagutaMuseveni) October 2, 2019
“I am told that those pharmacies are owned by health workers. Instead of prescribing the use of government medicine, they prescribe their own drugs,” he added.
In the same effort, the President has ordered that the Ministry of Public Service concludes the issue of increasing the pay for government scientists and university teachers.
He said these should be moved “to the desired levels (of salary) we previously agreed”.
“We can, then, be able to ban completely the practice of government health workers, running parallel clinics or drug shops”.
According to Museveni, it was not reasonable completely ban these private pharmacies and clinics when the salaries for health workers were so low.
“Paying the medical workers, the government scientists and the academicians well removes the temptation of double loyalty ─ to the public service and to the private interest of the employee”.
The issue of private pharmacies and drug shops situated in major hospitals and around health facilities has been an issue of concern to patients for a long time.
Many say health workers steal the government drugs that are meant to be given to patients at no cost and stock them in their pharmacies where they later refer these patients claiming some of the drugs are not available.
In the wake of continuous demands by different categories of public servants for pay rise, Museveni has always said this will be done systematically, considering the country’s economy as well as other factors.
In May last year, following a decision by government to import Cuban doctors in the wake of a strike by medical doctors, the President explained government’s position to raise the salaries of scientists and science teachers in the public sector which he said had more to do with the rate of retention.
“If a history teacher goes away, it is easy to replace him than a Science teacher. Therefore, in terms of retention of the people, we are more desperate to retain Scientists of the government than the other categories,” he said.
He also lambasted some of the headteachers who have since protested the upward revision of salaries of teachers claiming that it was unfair for a teacher to get a higher pay than a head teacher.
“I am the President of Uganda but I get Shs 3.6 million. There are some public servants who get Shs 40m, Shs 50m but let them try to challenge my authority. Authority does not depend on salary. I have authority although I am paid a low pay,” Museveni said.