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Kenya to employ 500 doctors from Tanzania

By Graham Kajilwa | Published Sat, March 18th 2017 at 20:04, Updated March 18th 2017 at 20:12 GMT +3
President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) with President of Tanzania Dr. John Pombe Joseph Magufuli at State House, Dar Es Salaam on 5th November, 2015

Kenya is determined to keep its word on importing doctors after a revelation that some 500 Tanzanian doctors could be on their way to the country.

A statement from Tanzanian president John Pombe Magufuli office revealed the plan which the country said follows a plea from Kenya.

According to the statement signed by Tanzanian State House Communication Director Gerson Msigwa, the deal was reached after detailed talks with Kenya's Health Cabinet Secretary Dr Cleopa Mailu.

" After the strike, it has been revealed that the country (Kenya) has an acute shortage of doctors that cannot be solved by depending on those still in school but by hiring from other countries," read the statement in Swahili.

The statement noted that Council of Governors Chair in charge of Health Jack Ranguma said Kenya is ready and willing to pay the doctors once they get in and deployed.

"Tanzania Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said the ministry will release the doctors immediately as Tanzania has many graduate doctors yet to be employed or have just concluded their contracts but can still work," read the statement.

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According to World Health organization, Tanzanian doctor to patient ratio stand at 1:20,000 while Kenya stands at one to 16,000.

This is against one to 300 that is the recommended ration.

An official statement is yet to be released by the Kenyan government regarding the same.

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacist and Dentists Union (KMPDU) refrained from reacting to the news insisting that they will be giving their position later.

During the over 100 day long doctors’ strike, the government had threatened doctors with sacking and having them replaced with foreign ones.

Kenya has about 10,000 registered doctors with barely half working in government institutions.

Meanwhile, services at the country's largest referral hospital have been restored after doctors union sealed an agreement with the institution to call off the 105 day strike.

Saturday evening Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacist and Dentists Union (KMPDU) directed its members to resume duty at the Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) after the facility's management agreed to sign the Return to Work Formula (RTWF).

The RTWF had been signed on March 14 between the union, Ministry of Health and Council of Governors who represented 47 counties to end a strike that had protracted for 100 days.

However, KNH being a government parastatal-operating independently-hesitated to domesticate the deal arguing the non-existent of a recognition agreement with the union to enable the two bodies come to a deal.

Consequently, 264 doctors boycotted duty until the RTWF was signed despite KNH reinstating 12 who had been sacked over the strike and withdrawing disciplinary action on 48 others.

"We have reconciled and we are going to have a happy relationship. We were never in competition of any kind," said Lily Koros, KNH Chief Executive Officer.

She added: "Despite the challenges we have been able to reach a middle ground. As a board, we have always looked forward in ending the impasse."

KNH is known to serve patients from across the country and also the region especially those suffering from chronic diseases like kidney failure and cancer.

"We are delighted that at long last we have this document (RTWF). We therefore advice our members to report to their work places as the strike has been called off," said Dr Oluga.

According to the RTWF, doctors will be entitled to a Doctors Allowance of Sh36,000 to Sh50,000 and a Sh20,000 risk allowance.

The RTWF was also meant to pave way for a Collective Bargaining Agreement to be signed and registered in court in the next 60 days.

According to the CBA, the government will be employing at least 1,200 doctors for four years to bridge the current shortage.