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Kenyan Doctors and nurses plan strike over promotions

Health & Science

NAKURU: The country is likely to face a major health crisis if county governments do not promote heath workers by the end of this month, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has said.

Union Chairman Samuel Oroko said 3,000 doctors will join nurses and subordinate staff in a nationwide strike. Dr Oroko said counties have not shown commitment to improve the sector.

He said except for Machakos, Kisii and Wajir, counties have not promoted healthcare workers and doctors since devolution came into force. He said despite Machakos, Kisii and Wajir having promoted 30, 20 and 10 doctors respectively, they are yet to remit the arrears.

Most counties claim they do not have employment files of the employees from the national government, an excuse he said shows no goodwill by counties.

“Some 44 counties are yet to promote doctors and health workers, but the leaders continue giving promises that have never been implemented,” the KMPDU boss said.

He noted that lack of promotions makes workers jump ship and join the private sector, which is more rewarding. Since devolution came into force, more than 2,000 doctors have resigned, most of who had pending promotions.

“Most counties have continued experiencing promotion challenges since devolution of the heath sector, and so far, governors do not indicate any goodwill in improving the sector but they are rather full of excuses,” Oroko said.

He expressed concern that doctors on internship, who are supposed to be promoted, are still being treated as interns despite having acquired practising licences. Failure to acknowledge the interns kills morale of the health care workers, who opt for alternative employment, he said.

“Lack of promotion and training of health workers is highly hitting the sector, considering that training helps in the acquisition of skills. Currently there is no internal training for graduate doctors, who require mandatory training of 12 months,” he said.

In Nakuru, 15 doctors absorbed under the National Trainee Programme threatened to down their tools over the county’s failure to pay their April and May salaries.

More than 1,800 employees were to be promoted since devolution, but none has been promoted and there is no communication from the county on the matter. He said most counties report strikes every month due to delayed salaries, a move that affects effective service delivery.

However, counties point an accusing finger at the national government because of delaying their money.

Oroko insists salary payment should be addressed, with proper planning and budgeting put in place to avoid inconveniences.

Nakuru is among the counties that have reported healthcare and doctors’ strikes due to delayed salaries and the promotion issue.

In February, the county was forced to pay health workers’ salaries from revenue collected locally to end a four-day go-slow. In a meeting to call off a strike chaired by the Deputy Governor Joseph Ruto at the Rift Valley Provincial Hospital in early March, he said the county failed to pay health workers on time due to delayed disbursement of Sh1.34 billion from the Treasury.

Healthcare workers accepted to call off their strike after the county government promised to pay them all leave allowances.

 HONOUR AGREEMENT

On promotion, the county signed an agreement of promoting 1,800 workers in August last year and Mr Ruto promised to implement the promotions by September.

Another meeting was held in March this year, where leaders promised to conduct promotions by end of April, in what the workers describe as “ear excitement talks”.

On May 5, another meeting chaired by Governor Kinuthia Mbugua was held and the latter promised to honour the promotion agreement by end of May.

However, on receiving their July salaries last week (August 5), the workers realised the promotions did not reflect on their pay-slips.

The “empty promises” have paralysed operations in 117 dispensaries, 24 health centres and seven hospitals because 2,400 healthcare workers and 150 doctors have downed their tools till the agreement is implemented

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