By Our Reporter
One can hardly talk of individuals that have outstandingly advocated for rights of health professionals over time without mentioning Usher Wilson Owere.
Popular for his timeless efforts, Owere has a rich history and continues to enjoy a big recognition towards advocating for better working conditions of health professionals and workers across different sectors in the country.
Owere, also a leader whose desire to shape a better world has pushed him to advocate for better working conditions of workers across different sectors, with the most recent achieving a lunch allowance pay rise of nurses and midwives has seen him remarkably recognized for his tremendous efforts not only for advocacy but also for being a lead consultant on lifting workers’ rights. His journey is a tale of a true workers’ rights advocate.
For the tremendous efforts, The Uganda National Organization of Trade Unions (UNOTU) head is one of the sixteen personnel that scooped the Daisy Award for Extraordinary Service at the International Nurses’ Day Celebrations at Kamuli Busoga youth Centre Boma grounds on Thursday last week.
Justus Cherop Kiplangat, the president of Uganda Nurses and Midwives Union (UNMU) recalls that it’s by Owere’s efforts that his institution has registered several success in improving the working conditions of health workers among which include his advocacy and aiding medics’ salary increment negotiations in 2018 thus one of the reasons for the award
“We have achieved so much as the health sector; specifically we in nursing and midwifery sector, he for example had a huge hand in advocating and achieving our 2018 salary negotiations with government,” said Cherop.
Cherop further justifies that Owere, by his tremendous advocacy for better pay has helped improve Respectful Maternal Care (RMC) citing that as midwives are well catered for, they are motivated to effectively handle mothers with care and in the result, Respectful Maternal care is boosted.
“We also in 2021, negotiated the lunch allowances and he has been accompanying us in the negotiating team throughout until we achieved this lunch, so we award him for his efforts,” he said.
“Mr. Owere has also continuously played a good role model to most of us in leadership positions, he guides us on motivating our nurses and midwives and as a result Respectful Maternal Care is extended,” he added.
Most recently, Owere’s action of rallying midwives and nurses to stay home over low lunch allowances saw government react by releasing an estimated UGX 70 billion to cater for 26,000 nurses and midwives at a rate of 15,000 per health worker, per day from the 2,000 Shillings they initially received which could not even cater for a descent cup of tea.
Despite his efforts of pushing for the implementation of the minimum wage bill running futile, Kamuli District Health Officer (DHO) James Wakko credits Owere for being the lead initiator of the bill citing that he played a lead eye opener hoping that at one point, other advocators shall succeed with the bill.
‘So being a person who initiated getting the minimum wage of workers, I thank him for being passionate about the plight of our workers and urge others to emulate his example,” he said.
Armed with the passion of changing service delivery through advocacy for better working conditions of health workers, Kawempe hospital Principal Nursing Officer Christine Nabbanja described Owere as a resilient advocate who she says the nurses and midwives working conditions wouldn’t be better without his efforts adding that it’s because of people like Owere that they (nurses and midwives) are motivated to push for Respectful Maternal Care.
“Working motivated is a very crucial change agent of Respectful Maternal Care, we thank him for playing a role in advocating for our better working conditions which in the end benefits our mothers as well,” she said.
“I remember in our push for better lunch allowances, we almost lost hope but because of his advocacy and encouragement we pushed on and achieved and in return we also commit to respectfully attend to our mothers,” Nabbanja added.
Tracing his beginnings and motivation for advocacy, speaking at the sidelines of the awarding ceremony, Owere credited the midwives and nurses association for always being collaborative at the times he has advocated for the sectors’ better working conditions.
“Even when I was advocating for their own rights, these people never left the whole burden to me, they listened and acted in response to my advice and by this, they today serve our expectant mothers happily and more effectively,” said Owere.
Speaking more critically in regards to Respectful Maternal Care, Owere justified that it’s only a motivated midwife that will whole heartedly serve mothers thus promoting respectful maternal care.
“For every public servant, motivational privileges are important if we’re at the end of the day to achieve effective service delivery for our people, my love for better services more so in the health sector keeps me determined with advocating for better working conditions,”
Owere who pledged continuous support towards respectful maternal care also encouraged the nurses and midwives union to diversify and engage in profitable enterprises so as to enhance their incomes citing that it’s this way they can serve mothers respectfully as they won’t be money hungry.
“I however, urge the Uganda nurses and midwives union to continue being vibrant, commit to delivering maternal services to our mothers more respectfully as we also offer support because we shall not allow anybody to disorganize the achievements the nurses and the midwives are registering,” he said
Having established his niche as a worker’s rights advocate, Owere’s desire for better working conditions of health workers adds to Native Voices international’s pursuit of amplifying women living conditions; under the celebrating womanhood festival where persons like him are awarded for outstandingly advocating for better women lives. Through his advocacy for better working conditions of health workers, he is truly a women life changer and a women common good causer whose efforts can’t go uncelebrated.
In the regard his efforts also add to the Native Voices International partnership campaign with the White Ribbon Alliance that is advocating for respectful maternity care, where the two bodies are traversing districts of Jinja Kamuli, Iganga and Masindi seeking to advance more effectively for reproductive, maternal and newborn health rights by examining missing gaps in ensuring respectful maternal health care as well as rising the issues for redress to relevant authorities.