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Doctors: Private hospitals arm twisting the government on our pay

HEALTH & SCIENCEBy GRAHAM KAJILWA | Sun,Jan 29 2017 18:45:43 EAT
By GRAHAM KAJILWA | Sun,Jan 29 2017 18:45:43 EAT

 Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union(KMPDU) officials led by Chairman Samuel Oroko(C) and Secretary General Dr.Ouma Oluga(R) addressing the media. (Photo: Boniface Okendo/Standard)

Doctors are now blaming 'influential hands' from the private sector for the unresolved strike that has prolonged for eight weeks.

This is as the medics are expected back in court tomorrow for further direction after their one month sentence was suspended further for five days to give them room to call off the 56 day strike.

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has claimed forces from the sector are arm-twisting the government in order to ensure they do not get their demands met.

The union's secretary General Dr. Ouma Oluga said the move is to make sure that their businesses are protected and that they continue making huge profits.

Oluga said this has made the government mishandle the strike and resort to using the courts to punish them for not instructing their members to return to work.

"It is disappointing the way the ministry has handled this strike. The ministry has not taken our problems seriously and that we have resolved to have a mediator," said Oluga.

He added: "And by how the strike has been prolonged, there is a heavy hand of the private sector manipulating the government and specifically the ministry to protect their profits."

National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich had also revealed that the government cannot pay doctors the 'ridiculous' amount they are demanding as it will collapse the private sector with mass exodus of staff.

"This is definitely a sign to collapse the public health sector just to protect some few private. Hospitals. Kenyans cannot continue suffering without hospitals as some few individuals make huge returns," said Oluga.

The union has argued that from the Sh51 billion collected as insurance from Kenyans, at least Sh33 billion ends up in private hospitals: "Yet they only serve one per cent of Kenyans and the rest depend on public facilities."

Despite a directive by the Industrial Court on Thursday last week that suspended the doctors union officials' one month jail sentence by five days-within which they should have called off the strike-the doctors yesterday insisted that it is only until their demands are met that is when they will call it off.

Though Justice Hellen Wasilwa had made it clear that the five days-elapsing today-are not in any way meant for negotiations, Oluga said the government is yet to contact them for any offer since.

"The court should be part of the solution but all they have done is prolong the strike. Until the government sobers up and give us our demands, every other process is just a waste of time," said Oluga.

The government reluctance to implement a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2013 that seeks not only to improve the doctors' pay by 150 per cent but also the status of facilities is the bone of contention.

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