Uganda is importing at least 200 doctors from Cuba to ease work, days after the medical doctors and nurses suspended their salary strikes.
Public Service minister Muruli Mukasa told press that Cuba is a friendly country and “we could have got a few doctors to come and help us”.
“We could learn from them and they also learn from us,” Muruli said.
But doctors under Uganda Medical Association (UMA) criticised the plan to import Cuban medical experts, equating the move to “treason”.
“In sum, this is an act of treason and the responsible person should face the General Court Martial, then Luzira prison,’ Dr Ekwaro Obuku, the UMA president, said in a statement.
The doctors on November 25 suspended their strike until December 16, pending progress on the government’s commitment to address their demands for improved salaries and other remuneration.
The Minister of Health, Dr Jane Ruth Aceng, was quoted saying the Cuban doctors would be coming to bolster the healthcare services, but not to replace local doctors.
The government Spokesperson, Ofwono Opondo, told Daily Monitor the importation of Cuban doctors should not be “a cause for alarm or scare anybody”.
“Uganda does not have enough doctors to cover the health sector and you cannot compel all Ugandan doctors to work for government,” Mr Opondo said.
He said the Cuban government offered to send doctors to Uganda in the early years when NRM came to power three decades ago but the offer was rejected by President Museveni, who instead asked Cuba for training support which resulted in the opening of Mbarara University of Science and Technology.
Health minister sick
Meanwhile, the State minister for Primary Health Care, Dr Joyce Moriku Kaducu, is currently on life-support at International Hospital Kampala.
She was admitted after alleged food-poisoning, according to Sarah Opendi, the State Minister Health for General Duties.
Opendi told Monitor that Moriku’s condition had worsened after she developed breathing complications.
Dr Moriku who also doubles as the Women Member of Parliament for Moyo District was to be airlifted for better treatment at Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi.
Opendi said some of her samples were to be taken to South Africa on Monday by Dr Sylvester Onzivua for further toxicological investigations.
Dr Moriku was first admitted at Mulago National Referral Hospital during the same period when doctors were on strike last month.