Doctors say unafraid of presidential directive on private practice

KMPDU Secretary General Doctor Ouma Oluga addressing journalists
NAIROBI, KENYA: A presidential directive to civil servants not to engage in private practice has been dismissed by doctors who say they are not afraid to get fired for going against it.

Doctors say it is a mission impossible for the government to expect them to follow such directives yet the medics are not properly remunerated in the public sector.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Dr Ouma Oluga said most of the affected doctors are specialists who the government cannot afford to pay them what they are worth.

This is while private facilities are ready to cough more for their services.

“But they brought in Cuban specialists who are paid Sh800,000. We have very few specialists, so they can decide to abandon public facilities and move to private. But you see such a move will be detrimental for the small hospitals, especially in the counties, which serve majority of Kenyans,” said Oluga.

As at March 20, 2018 there were 2,591 specialists among them 168 anaesthetists, but only one cardio-thoracic specialists. There was none for critical care, nuero and pain management.

While Nairobi had the bulk of the specialists at 1,340 some counties namely: Vihiga, Marsabit, Mandera and Wajir had none.

During the anti-corruption conference last week, President Uhuru Kenyatta said civil servants should choose between engaging in their private business and serving the public. He said a law should be drafted to tie civil servants in government jobs.

Such a move may not go well with doctors, who through their ‘brother and sister’ code work in both public and private facilities, especially those whose specialty is rare.

Oluga said the country can go to any direction it chooses with the directive.

Oluga said the government should endevour to pay doctors the rightful salary as per the market rates, and they will stick to their respective facilities.

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Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union