Address doctor's plight to stem strikes, save lives

Kenya Medical Pharmacy And Dentistry Practitioners Union (KMPDU) advisory council led by Secretary General Dr Davji Atellah (center) addressing the press in Nakuru on December 2, 2023. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

It is that season yet again. Doctors in at least six counties have issued strike notices that in the next few days they will down tools. This could easily pass as an assertion any time of the year since it has become the norm.

The doctors in Vihiga County are already on strike. Their counterparts in Kajiado will begin theirs on Thursday, December 7 while those in Kilifi County promises to withdraw services any time next week. Services will also be withdrawn in Embu, Busia and Nakuru counties. The group in Kajiado says it is tired of delayed promotions partly due to nepotism, it is poorly equipped to handle patients, the few who work there say they need to recharge their batteries as they suffer burnout.

In Nakuru the team is decrying highhandedness and lack of interest from the board to address incessant issues they have been raising. Talk of a pay rise is all too common. It is time to stop these industrial actions by addressing plight of workers.  One can tell with certainty that the doctors will start followed by nurses and other health practitioners.

This has always been the case. Why is it this predictable? The request by these medics are reasonable and within the ability of the counties but leaders would rather wait and see patients hurt or die for them to negotiate. This is failed leadership. The doctors’ union leaders have asked county bosses to act fast but there seems to be lethargy on their part as nothing tangible has been put on the table. It is inhumane to punish health workers simply to force them to toe the line as are the claims from Kajiado County.

It is time to not only preempt the strikes but also stop them. The demands the medics are making sound reasonable and Kenyans should not suffer because of the incompetence of county officials.

If the county officials cannot move, then the ministry can intervene despite health being a devolved function. Life is too precious to be toyed around with like the county teams are currently doing.