The Minister of Health, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, has been summoned by parliament to explain why the contracts of health workers under the COVID-19 emergency services were terminated despite a presidential directive to absorb them into government health facilities.
While chairing the Thursday plenary, Deputy Speaker Thomas Tayebwa recalled that following the presidential directive, the Health Service Commission employed all legible medical officers.
“On November 10, 2021, the Health Service Commission wrote to all directors of government health facilities that it was going to run a validation exercise of all COVID-19 emergency workers. They were regularised, they started working and they even started getting some loans,” said Tayebwa.
He was, however, concerned that the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health, overlooked this directive and terminated contracts of medical officers already employed in various parts of the country.
This, he said, was not the right way of rewarding people who risked their lives in the fight against COVID-19.
“On March 18, 2022, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health wrote a letter terminating all non-gratuitable contract workers under the emergency response to COVID-19. So after saving us and COVID-19 is gone we are terminating their contracts. What if COVID-19 comes back? I do not know how we shall call these people again to volunteer,” Tayebwa said.
The response from officers whose contracts were terminated, Tayebwa said, was so spine-chilling that it required an urgent response from the government.
“The messages I am receiving are from those who even have a master’s degree in medicine—they are crying, they are really in a bad state—some have taken up loans here and there,” said Tayebwa.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that the health workers were suspended without being paid their arrears.