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There are no funds to meet your demands, Amoth on doctors' strike

 Acting Health Director General Dr. Patrick Amoth. [Samson Wire, Standard]

As the doctors’ strike enters its second week, unions have vowed to continue with the industrial action until their pleas are addressed.

Key among the issues they would like resolved is that of interns, in which the unions are demanding the posting of hundreds of medical interns who have graduated since last year.

According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist’s Union (KMPDU) there is always a budget for interns allocated every year.

Therefore, claims by the Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha that there are not enough funds, is nothing but a facade.

But, Health Acting Director-General Patrick Amoth disagrees with the unions saying that the Ministry does not have enough funds to cater to the medics’ demands. 

Speaking on Spice FM on Wednesday, Amoth said that the National Treasury stated that it cannot sustain the provisions earlier offered to medical interns and that the Ministry of Health should develop a policy that is sustainable financially.

According to him, the allocations made were manageable before as the number of interns was little.

However, as it is, the number has tripled and the budget, facilities and human resources remain the same.

Therefore, the need for the unions to adjust and adapt according to the current eco-system is of importance.

“We are where we are today because of the changing eco-system in the health sector. For a long time, we had one medical school but now we have 13. So the total number of graduates we are channeling has increased while in terms of guidelines and policies, nothing has changed in tandem with the changing ecosystem,” said Amoth.

“For a long time, we have operated on the paradigm that the numbers were manageable. If you look at the total number of interns now, the number has increased in threefold. This brings other problems like where do we place them because we have a fixed number of interns in any facility.”

His remarks come days after failed talks between the medical unions and the Ministry of Health in which it maintains it cannot afford to meet the demands by the medics.

According to the Ministry, the deployment of the current batch of medics will require Sh4.9 billion with each intern earning 206,000 shillings per month, which it says is unaffordable.

But, doctors maintain that they will remain out of office until the government heeds their pleas.

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