Four medical interns were arrested as they marched to Parliament to petition the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to intervene in their grievances.

Doctors Joseph Otim, Faith Kyakunizire, Ronald Kiggundu and Joel Mirembe, the former president of medical Interns, were part of a group of over 60 medical interns who walked from Mulago Medical School to Parliament.

The over 1,000 medical interns are slated to start their internship today in different hospitals countrywide. The students are demanding to be allowed to spend three months in each of the four disciplines: internal medicine, surgery, obstetrics and gynaecology plus paediatrics.

However, the commissioner for clinical services, Dr Charles Olaro, in a statement signed for the director general of health services, yesterday explained that previously the training of medical doctors on internship used to be rotational in only two disciplines of the student’s choice. Six months would be spent in one surgical discipline and the other six months in one medical discipline for the one year of internship.

Olaro said in 2009, the condition was temporarily changed to three months’ rotation in each of the four disciplines as a trial, with the assumption that obtaining skills in all the disciplines would enable medical doctors to work in health centre IVs with confidence.

However the objective was not realised as it turned out that most medical officers who were graduates of that rotational scheme, when posted to HC IVs, could not carry out simple surgical procedures or manage some medical conditions.

He said the interns’ supervisors from the training universities found a lot of gaps with the three-month rotation and advised the regulatory councils and health ministry that the short period of rotation does not give the interns adequate exposure to learn the practical skills in each of the four disciplines. He added that after 10 years of observation, in the best interest of patients and the interns themselves, it was recommended that they revert to the old system, to give interns time to acquire the skills and confidence to manage most of the common conditions.

However, the president of the federation of Uganda medical interns, Dr Henry Sekyanzi, insisted that early this year, court issued a temporary injunction against the Ministry of Health implementing the six-month rotational system for two disciplines.

Dr Romeo Okidi, the vice-president of medical interns, said: “Policy also requires us to work only in Uganda, thus hindering our career. The interns also want their allowances increased from sh750,000 to sh3m on top of being given free accommodation. An intern doctor only identified as

Patricia said: “We work from Monday to Sunday, but are only given peanuts, which are even taxed.”

Olaro said accommodation allowance has been incorporated into the monthly allowance given to interns. He further said the health ministry pays intern doctors allowances to facilitate their apprenticeship. Adding that the current allowance paid to the interns is what is available.

Kampala Metropolitan Police deputy spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the suspects will be charged with holding an unlawful procession.

Kampala Metropolitan deputy Police spokesperson Luke Owoyesigyire said the suspects will charged with holding an unlawful procession.

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