The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union protest in Nairobi on March 4, 2024. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists Dentists Union (KMPDU) has issued a seven-day nationwide strike notice, demanding promotions, medical cover, internship, postgraduate fee payment, study leave, and pension from the government.

 The union also staged a peaceful protest in Nairobi on Monday, 4 March, over the same issues and the assault on its Secretary General Davji Atellah, who was injured by a teargas canister fired by the police during a previous protest. 

KMPDU Deputy Secretary-General Dennis Miskellah said the union had no option but to resort to industrial action after the government failed to address their grievances.

 “For now I pray and hope that we remain strong, remain united, and remain alert to people who want to claw back on our gains. The issue of internship cannot be negotiated. We had the CBA and the minister cannot purport that she will change the rules,” he said. 

“Interns are the backbone of our healthcare system. Let’s stand with our brothers and sisters. The issue of school fees cannot be negotiated. The deal on our medical cover cannot be negotiated. All the issues we are going to have addressed comprehensively once and for all. We had intended to have the strike in June but they have made us bring it forward.”

.

Keep Reading

The union also condemned the police for using excessive force against the protesting doctors and injuring Dr Atellah, who was leading a march towards the Treasury offices on Thursday last week.

 “We were marching towards the Treasury, around the Argwings Kodhek road, when a cop just shot him at close range in the head and he just collapsed,” said Dr Miskellah.

Dr Atellah was rushed to Nairobi Hospital for treatment and is in stable condition. Atellah claimed he was targeted by the officer in charge of Capitol Hill Police Station, Evans Kangangi, who aimed at him. 

“I was shot at from a close range by the OCS. He was aiming at me. He wanted to kill me,” he said from his hospital bed on Friday. 

The union said it would present petitions to seven offices, including the Ministry of Health, the Council of Governors, the Senate, the National Assembly, the Public Service Commission, the Treasury, and the Interior Ministry, to demand action on their issues. 

KMPDU had earlier threatened a nationwide strike if over 1,000 medical interns were not hired and criticised the Ministry of Health for refusing to absorb the medics, thereby denying Kenyans medical services.

 Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha has denied claims that the police intentionally targeted Dr Atellah. 

Speaking to a local TV station on Saturday, March 2,  Nakhumicha said the police fired the teargas canister that injured him by accident.

“That was an accident. I don’t think anyone intended to hurt the secretary general, and I talked to him myself and told him nobody wanted to hurt him. But it was just to disperse. But by bad luck, it hit him on the head. There is no reason to worry. They are safe. Even he is a doctor, and he is safe,” she said.

She also said the issues being raised by the medical practitioners are beyond her control, insisting that the ball lies with the National Treasury.