Governors blocking a deal, doctors now say

A Healthcare worker and his colleagues hijack a police land cruiser before it veered off in full speed. He fell while trying to a light from the speeding police car along Waiyaki Way when healthcare workers jammed the street of Nairobi demanding implementation of their CBA on March 22,2024 [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

As the doctors’ strike drags on, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) is now blaming the Council of Governors for the collapse of talks called on Wednesday to resolve the deadlock.

Speaking via telephone to The Saturday Standard, KMPDU Deputy Secretary General Dennis Miskellah said the union is ready to engage but the government is dragging its feet.

“Let the government put its house in order. We have ceded ground on so many issues. We reduced our demands from 17 to 10, then came down to immediate matters, but the governors came to the table with threats”, said Miskellah.

He also called on the government to take responsibility and resolve the issue.

“Let the government calm the strike. We are open for dialogue. We have not refused to come to the table,” he said.

Miskellah also accused the government, through the National Treasury, of trying to frustrate doctors.

He added that union fees have not been submitted and that many doctors cannot be attended to in private hospitals.

“Just like the rest of NHIF holders, doctors cannot access medical services unless they pay from their pockets. Some hospitals have failed to submit doctors’ March salaries, while others like KU Referral (Kenyatta University Teaching Research and Referral Hospital) have only paid doctors half salaries,” he said. 

The two sides were meant to deposit an agreement with the court on Tuesday, but it never happened since the talks flopped.

Meanwhile, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) has called for an urgent resolution of the doctors’ strike, urging the National Treasury, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, National and County governments and the Ministry of Health to agree with the doctors union and enable resumption of health services in public hospitals.

 In a statement issued on Good Friday, ICJ Chairperson Protas Saende stated: “We, a collective body of Jurists, are deeply concerned about the ongoing doctors’ strike that is causing untold suffering to a majority of the Kenyan population who rely on public health facilities.”

Apart from the strike, the human rights body also called on the Ministry of Health to resolve ongoing dispute with private hospitals, which have refused to attend to NHIF cardholders. The organisation wants the ministry to ensure a smooth transition from the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to the Social Health Insurance Fund.

“We call upon the National Treasury, NHIF, and the Ministry of Health to ensure the immediate release of funds owed to public and private health facilities by NHIF so that beneficiaries continue to receive the health insurance they are entitled to,” Saende urged.

Private hospitals have stopped offering health services to NHIF cardholders over failure by the government to pay up to Sh29 billion in claims.