KMPDU Secretary-General Bhimji Atella leads members in a demo outside the Treasury Building, Nairobi, on March 22, 2024. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Health workers unions are aggrieved by President William Ruto’s stand that the government will not borrow money to pay them.

The unions, including the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco), now claim that the government may have decided to wage a silent war against healthcare workers.

KMPDU Secretary General Davji Bhimji Atella on Monday claimed that it is clear the government has refused to address perennial ills ailing the health sector.

The union believes that the government is represented by dishonest officials who reneged on their obligations to fulfil a Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2017 despite several court directives asking them to do so.

“It is quite obvious to all that we are dealing with a repressive government and employer who has no regard for the welfare of its workers and the health of its citizens,” said Dr Atella.


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With a call to a peaceful march to be held today, the doctors vowed to remain steadfast in pursuing their collective mission in what they term as resisting the degradation and devaluation of their profession.

Speaking during a demonstration, Kuco Secretary General George Gibore said the president is not well advised on the issue of the healthcare worker’s strike.

Gibore said the statement that the president made on Sunday is not in line with what he captured in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto.

The manifesto included health Bills such as the Social Health Authority (SHA) which focused on how to finance Universal Health Coverage.

The manifesto also included the digital health Bill and the primary healthcare Bill, which are targeted at improving the health sector.

“One of the key components to ensure all these Bills are functioning and well utilised is the human resource component which the president is not keen on,” the secretary-general said.

The president said on Sunday that the government is not ready to borrow money to pay salaries, and asked the doctors to live within their means.

He said the government can afford Sh70,000 for 1,500 interns.

“I know we have a situation with doctors and medical interns. I would implore them to agree to live within our means, we cannot continue to spend money we don’t have,” the president said.

However, Gibore reminded the president that in his manifesto, he promised to employ 20,000 healthcare workers in the first two years of the Kenya Kwanza administration’s term, which has not yet materialized.

He added that the best approach would be to stabilise what is there and enforce it by employing more personnel.

The Auditor General’s recent report indicated that none of the levels 4 and 5 in the country have the required number of staff, with a majority doing less than half. In a level 4 facility, the recommended number is 323 but the majority have 107-150.

According to Kuco, they are agitating for harmonisation by putting those on contract on permanent and pensionable terms.