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Uganda Poor Working conditions in the fight against COVID 19 pandemic

Medical workers under their umbrella body, the Uganda Medical Workers Union (UMWU) have decried what they call poor working conditions in the fight against COVID 19 pandemic.

According to UMWU General Secretary Aggrey Sanya, the medical workers continue to face realistic challenges which are a threat to their safety and lives.

“Medical workers in hospitals and other health centres continue to work in life endangering conditions without Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The work environment in some health facilities remains appalling; old dilapidated structures and unhygienic,” said Sanya in a statement.

Due to the increased population without commensurate increase in health infrastructure and health workforce, Sanya said many health workers are crumbling under a heavy workload which is particularly dangerous during the COVID 19 pandemic.

He called on Government to expedite with utmost urgency the process of providing appropriate PPE to health workers at all levels and in all sectors (both public and private).

“We don’t wish to see a situation where health workers are dying at the frontline,” he said.

To minimize the contact between a healthcare provider and a patient, Sanya asked Government to make available the infrared thermometers (temperature guns) at all health facilities at all levels.

Allowance

Further, the medical workers asked for risk allowance saying that COVID 19 poses a huge risk to their lives.

“Cognizant of the special risk to which health workers are particularly exposed, we call upon Government to provide risk allowances not only to COVID 19 Task Force members (some of whom are only working at the level of boardroom meetings without direct exposure) but to all health workers at the risk of exposure from both confirmed and unconfirmed COVID 19 cases in all health facilities,” said Sanya.

He added that Government should provide enough means of transport during this lockdown to enable medical workers get to their places of work since most of them do not own private cars.

Furthermore, the health workers asked for relief aid as Government traverses the country distributing relief food to the vulnerable poor who were vehemently affected by the measures put in place by Government to combat the pandemic.

This Sanya said is because they are fully engaged in the fight against COVID 19 pandemic and cannot have time to engage in other activities to support their livelihood.

“We would like to remind Government that health workers are some of the least paid workers in civil service. Given that they are now fully engaged at the frontline full time, there is therefore not time and opportunity to engage in other activities to augment their source of livelihood. We therefore call upon Government to consider relief aid (food) for health workers that need it,” Sanya said.