Medical students have paralyzed business in Gulu, Kampala and Mbarara districts today in protest of the new government policy on the medical practitioners’ internship programme.
The new policy will see government only facilitating government sponsored students when they go to hospitals for their internship placement. This implies that private students will not be given allowances while undertaking internship. The medical interns were in the past been entitled to a monthly pay of 600,000.
In the same changes, government announced that government sponsored interns would be subjected to an extra two years of bonding after the mandatory one year internship placement before acquiring their practicing licenses.
Internship is a one year pre‐requisite by Uganda Medical and Dental Practitioners Council (UMDPC); Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU) and Nurses and Midwives Council for a medical graduate to be registered and licensed to practice by these professional bodies.
The policy affects students pursuing their Bachelors of Medicine, Bachelors of Surgery, Bachelors of Nursing Sciences, Bachelor of Dental Surgery and Bachelor of Pharmacy who will be undergoing supervised practical training at government health facilities.
This morning, the students dressed in their white clinical courts with stethoscopes fixed around their necks’, took to the streets in major towns carrying placards denouncing the new policy. They chanted “No pay, No work”,” stop exploiting us” and “Stop fooling us” among others.
They are petitioning leaders at different levels to stop the policy saying that it’s discriminatory and unjust.
In Gulu, Captain Don Adiiki, the acting resident district commissioner told the students that the petition will be addressed by the government.
In Mbarara, the students were first intercepted by the police near Mbarara Hospital but overwhelmed security. Mbarara district police commander Jaffer Magyezi later allowed them to proceed and sent police officers to guide them through Mbarara town.
In Kampala Police deployed heavily at the main gate to block the students from accessing Parliament, which sparked an exchange of words between the students and Geoffrey Kayeebwa, the Regional Police Commander, Southern Region.
For close to an hour, the students blocked part of Parliament Avenue, creating traffic gridlock, insisting that they first meet the Speaker Rebecca Kadaga. Police later led them to the CHOGM gardens.