Uganda bows to pressure, halts move to export medical specialists

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Health Minister, Dr Elioda Tumwesigye

 

After coming under intense pressure and strong criticism, the Ugandan government has halted the proposed move to export health professionals to the Caribbean nation of Trinidad and Tobago, acknowledging that the decision would weaken the health care system in the country.

The country’s Minister for Health Dr Ellioda Tumwesigye says that government reached the decision after discovering that 75 percent of the health professionals who applied to relocate to Trinidad and Tobago were specialists already serving in government health facilities.

Tumwesigye, in the company of his junior minister Dr Chris Baryomunsi, made the disclosure while appearing before the Health Committee of Parliament chaired by Dr Kenneth Omona.

“When adverts went out what did we see, over 75% who had applied were coming from government health facilities, it also became clearer that Trinidad and Tobago did not want the doctors, they only needed specialists.

In fact in some areas even the people who are applied did not meet the numbers that were required, as a sector we are not going to support the export of this labor. The health workers who are in government should not be exported. All that now is being reviewed not to proceed as it is” he told Members of Parliament.

Government had indicated plans to export about 263 specialists to Trinidad and Tobago through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs prompting protests from parliament and Health Rights Activists.

Those required include 15 internal medicine specialists, 4 Psychiatrists, 20 Radiologists, 15 Pediatricians, 4 Ear, Nose and Throat specialists, 100 Registered Midwives, 4 Anesthetists, 4 ophthalmologists, 40 Public Health Nurses and 100 Midwives amongst others.

Last week, activists under the “Civil Society Coalition to Stop Maternal Mortality in Uganda” led by Justinian Muhwezi Kateera, the Executive Director of the Institute of Public Policy Research presented a petition to the Speaker of the Parliament asking Government to halt the proposed export of Health Professionals saying it would increase Uganda’s disease burden.