End standoff with doctors, clergy tells government

Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) addresses the press in Nairobi. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) is now calling on the government to end the stalemate resulting from the ongoing nationwide doctors’ strike.

The Catholic Bishops have called for a truce between the government and medics, saying that it is Kenyans who are bearing the brunt of the impasse.

"While we believe there may be merit-worthy demands, we have always urged the doctors and medical practitioners to place the life and interests of the patients first. We still do the same. The life of a human person should never be used as a bargaining currency,” they said on Thursday during a briefing on the state of the nation.

The strike is now in its fourth week, with several medical associations and unions having joined.

KCCB also wants the government to clear National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) debts owed to various hospitals across the country before transitioning to Social Health Insurance Fund (SHIF).

The Bishops noted that the debt has now accrued to over Sh3b, crippling service delivery to Kenyans.

“The Catholic Church owns and manages hundreds of hospitals and dispensaries in the country. We have on various occasions raised to the government the very unjust fact that faith-based hospitals are owed huge amounts by NHIF,” they said.

The clergy claimed that most hospitals are unable to procure medicines and pay salaries as the government remains mum over the debt.

“Our inquiries on whether our debts will be honoured have been met with meager promises and no legal guarantee. This is not only unfair but unjust.”

More so, they also raised issues on the high cost of living and taxation calling on the Kenya Kwanza leadership to improve public participation regarding matters assessing its tax regime.

“This includes listening to the voice of the church and other faiths who have been clear on what path may be most beneficial at this time. We ask that the use of the collected taxes be clear and the benefit for the welfare evident.”

KCCB Leadership

KCCB also announced a few changes in its leadership; as Archbishop Muhatia Makumba replaced Archbishop Kivuva as its new chairperson.

Makumba will serve a renewable three-year term and will be deputised by Nyeri Archbishop Anthony Muheria.