Clinical officers demonstrate in Eldoret on June 19, 2024. [Peter Ochieng, Standard]

As the country braces for nationwide protests against the Finance Bill, 2024, today, the organisers now have support from unexpected quarters.

The latest to cross to their side are clinical officers who have been striking for 85 days now.

 The medics are volunteering to treat both demonstrators and law enforcement officers caught in the crossfire in the demos that are slated to kick off on Tuesday.

The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) has officially joined the effort, pledging to coordinate and provide emergency medical teams in every county and town affected by the demonstrations.

Speaking while announcing the union’s decision, KUCO chair, Peterson Wachira did not hide his disappointment with the government.

 “I think this is the regime that really has really shown incompetence in managing labour matters,” said Wachira.


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“We realised that if we had competent medical staff on the ground, probably Rex Masai would not have lost his life,” referring to a protester fatally shot by police earlier in the week,” he added.

“From that, as a union, we will coordinate and provide medical emergency teams.

‘‘While we had already deployed personnel, we realised the numbers were insufficient. We will now enhance our efforts to ensure that in every county and town where these ‘maandamano’ are taking place, we will have medical teams ready to respond in real-time,” the union Boss pledged.

The medical initiative comes against the backdrop of KUCO’s ongoing strike, which began on April 1, 2024.

The union cites the failure of the Ministry of Health and the 47 counties to honour court orders directing them to conclude Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiations.

“On May 9, the court gave further orders and we were given 45 days so that we can sit with employers and enter into a return-to-work-agreement,” Wachira said.

He further expressed the union’s frustrations with the government’s handling of the situation.

 “We must say that though we have been having several meetings, we have noted a lot of laxity and lack of goodwill from the side of the government and that is why for more than one month we are yet to enter into a consent or a return to work agreement,” revealed Wachira

The union has also expressed concern over the government’s handling of the health sector, pointing to a reduction in the health budget by Sh11 billion in the current fiscal year.

“Initially there was a reduction of the health budget by Sh11 billion. Now we have seen further proposals to reduce it by Sh3.7 billion and this is the money meant for interns,’’ said the union’s chairperson.  

This cut stands in stark contrast to the current administration’s campaign promises to improve health services by transitioning to universal health coverage.