Govt Sued Over Medics ‘Export’

A non-governmental organisation has sued government for allegedly facilitating the exodus of highly- qualified Ugandan health workers to foreign countries.

In its judicial review application filed on November 21, 2014 in the High court, the Institute of Public Policy and Research (IPPR) says the decision by government to recruit over 250 heath workers to work for the republic of Trinidad and Tobago is illegal and irrational.

Raymond Mwesige, the institute’s director of programmes, says that on November 7 2014, his attention was drawn to a press release on the official website of the ministry of Foreign Affairs through a news cast on NBS television. He claims that the press release was in relation to the decision by the government to recruit and “‘export’ 250 highly-qualified, specialized and experienced Ugandan health professionals currently serving in Uganda’s health sector to work for the government of Trinidad and Tobago.”

Thereafter, Mwesige, says, he established that the decision had been made at the urging of the government of Trinidad and Tobago which wants to strengthen its health sector and further accelerate existing bilateral relations.

Represented by Kwesigabo, Bamwine and Walubiri Aocates, IPPR says that court should stop the move since the health sector in Uganda is experiencing a critical shortage of health professionals at all levels of the health services delivery system.

In his affidavit, Mwesige says that according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) research, the ratio of doctor to patients in urban areas in Uganda is one to 24,725 while that in rural areas is 1:100,000.

“This falls short of the WHO’s recommended ratio of 1:1,000, a challenge that is well documented and well known to the respondent [Attorney General] and the massive recruitment and employment of such a large number of highly-qualified, specialised and experienced heath workers will greatly prejudice the right of Ugandans to access basic medical services,” the plaint reads.

Mwesige further contends that court should stop the move since government invests a lot in the education of health professionals with the view of improving the quality of health and medical services to Ugandan citizens.

The plaint says: “… The decision to export health professionals at such a massive scale will exacerbate the problems experienced by the health sector in Uganda caused by the critical shortages of health professionals… ”

The IPPR wants court to quash government’s decision to send the health workers to Trinidad and Tobago on grounds that it’s unethical, unreasonable and in violation of international conventions ratified by Uganda.

Source : The Observer

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