Kiambu County is on the verge of paralysis as health workers threaten to strike in protest of delayed pay and poor working conditions.
Last week, the medics staged a protest in Kiambu town and threatened to strike unless the county government intervened to address their concerns.
According to William Muriuki, Central Branch Secretary of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), medics are dissatisfied with the loss of medical insurance coverage and other benefits that they previously enjoyed.
"For example, the maternity cover has been reduced to Sh100,000. Rather than NHIF meeting the bill on discharge, one is required to pay the bill and then have the insurance company reimburse you up to a maximum of Sh100,000," Muriuki said, adding that the current optical and dental benefits have also been reduced.
The medics have also complained about salary delays, which they say have become a trend. "As we speak, Kiambu workers have yet to be paid despite having commitments that they are expected to meet," Muriuki said.
According to the official, the union will file a lawsuit because the county government did not follow procurement laws in identifying the insurer. The health workers were also upset about the nonpayment of gratuities to doctors whose contracts had expired.
"The 2017-2021 CBA remains unfulfilled, particularly on the basic pay component and the availability of a car and house mortgages as agreed upon," Muriuki said.
In response to the impending strike, Health executive Elias Maina said the county government has no outstanding salaries and that they are streamlining medical supplies to reduce waste and theft.
The CEC asked the medics to continue to provide medical services to residents while the county government investigates their complaints. "We are appealing to the medics not to be used by some interested parties who want to defeat the cause of reforms in the health sector aimed at combating corruption," Maina said in a statement.
The impending strike comes amid reports that Kiambu hospitals are in desperate need of medical supplies as patients complain of poor services.