Another glimmer of hope that the protracted doctors' strike would come to an end has been dashed. Yesterday’s talks between the doctors' representatives and the Government failed much the same way the meeting with President Kenyatta at State House Mombasa last week failed to achieve positive results.
Meanwhile, today marks the 37th day of the strike that has occasioned not just untold human suffering, but deaths that could have been avoided.
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu has given doctors until Wednesday this week to resume duty or face the sack as the Government seeks to hire foreign doctors and university freshers.
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While this might seem the most viable option for the Government, it fails to take into account some realities, most of which are embedded in law. For instance, foreign doctors must secure work permits and be registered with the Kenya Medical and Practitioners and Dentists Board.
They must work for a specific period of time under the supervision of a specialist, yet the specialists are on strike. The same goes for interns who must work under strict supervision. How then does the Government hope to go around these hurdles expeditiously without endangering lives more?
What guarantee is there foreign doctors will come a dime cheaper than local doctors? It is dishonest of the Government to sign a bargained deal then proceed to renege on it, citing its impracticability just as doctors, while betraying the Hippocratic oath, are also dishonest to engage in private practice in clinics they own where they put the squeeze on poor Kenyans who can only afford subsidised medical care at Government facilities.
Both sides must rise above this dishonesty and negotiate in good faith knowing well every minute lost through intransigence results in the loss of a life that could have been saved.