During a stakeholders meeting on Covid-19 and workers’ compensation in Wakiso District on Wednesday, the secretary general of the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), Dr Mukuzi Muhereza, said health workers who have contracted Covid-19 in the line of duty should be compensated by government.
His argument, which represents the rest of the medical staff, is premised on the reality that some health workers who contracted Covid-19 lost time or income. He said most of the affected medics have not been compensated. This lowers the morale of staff.
The stigma and trauma that accompanied the fear of catching Covid-19 after the first case was reported in the country on March 22, was too scaring to imagine health workers would stand firm, albeit their sworn oath, to provide medical care to patients affected by coronavirus.
Amid this scare, medical workers braved it all, in addition to sacrificing their comfort to relocate and reside in hospitals, to ensure they provide the much-needed healthcare to dozens of people who were either suspected to have contracted the virus or required medical help in regard to treatment for Covid-19.
Accounts from some medical workers involved in treating and caring of Covid-19 patients are heart-wrenching. Others did not make it.
Therefore, to demonstrate respect to our medics for the role they play in securing our lives, even if there was no enabling regulation, common sense would dictate that we reciprocate by according them a token of appreciation in respect to their sacrifice.
However, we do have a law, the Workers Compensation Act 2000 which states: “Where a medical practitioner grants a certificate stating that a worker is suffering from a scheduled disease causing disablement… and the disease was due to the nature of the worker’s employment…, the worker… shall be entitled to claim and to receive compensation under this Act.”
On this basis, government should expedite the process of compensating the healthcare professionals involved in treating and caring for Covid-19 patients.
This country has compensated several different people on account of loss or damage, and this gesture should be extended to health workers in good faith, without them first crying out in public yet they are performing a noble duty in the wake of a new unpredicted pandemic.
Therefore, the statement from Mr Frank Mugabi, the Gender ministry’s spokesperson, that health workers need to send an official claim to his ministry before they embark on the compensation process because they have a right to be compensated, is much welcome.