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New year reprieve as clinical officers call off strike

By JUDAH BEN-HUR | 3 months ago


Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) General Secretary George Gibore addressing the press in Nakuru on October 27,2020 on Covid 19 situation in the country. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

Clinical officers have handed Kenyans a new year gift, ending their 26-day long strike after coming to an agreement with the Ministry of health, a welcome relief for the healthcare sector overstretched with admissions.  Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) signed a return-to-work formula Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe at Afya House on Friday, its chairman Peterson Wachira said.  The union said their concern on unsafe working environment in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic had been addressed.  "We are provided on how to ensure they get supported in terms of the PPEs, frequently checking on whether they are available or whether they are adequate," said KUCO Secretary-General George Gibore. 

A confident and pleased Gibore took to the mic and explained how happy he is that clinical officers will now be able to get medical cover and group life insurance; one of the key demands.   "All our members can be able to get medication once hospitalised because of complications emanating from Covid-19 infection and also to ensure that the group life insurance is also provided for purpose of compensation if in any case anyone succumbs to the condition," said Mr Gibore.   Gibore expressed optimism in the processes set out to actualise their 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expected to be finalised by February.  


Clinical officers and Nurses demonstrating in Eldoret town,UasinGishu County on Wednesday,16 December ,2020.Medics are demanding risk allowances,enough PPEs and medical cover in fighting the novel Covid-19 pandemic. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

However, other demands such as the employment of contracted officer on permanent basis has remained blurry with Gibore stating that some of their interests are still under consultation between the health and treasury ministries. Luckily, those under six months employment will have their contracts renewed.    "Those who are working within the contractual term, the government is going to take considerable measures to ensure that all of them will be able to get benefits which are not limited to the NHIF cover which they previously didn't have," said Mr Gibore.   Another major win for the clinical officer will be the designation of separate health facilities to address the challenge of getting treatment in public hospitals.   The government will also drop all cases presented to court following the strike notice issued on November 23 together with all disciplinary cases emanating from the strike lodged against the individual officers.    "We have also agreed that the multiagency team that was put in place by the ministry of labour shall continue being in place and is going to ensure that it is following on the implementation of all the agreed issues," said Mr Gibore.    The clinical officers commenced their strike on December 7 prompting a healthcare crisis that has paralysed the public health system for more than three weeks. The agreement comes a week after the doctors signed their return-to-work formula and resumed their duties on December 24. 


From left, Chibanzi Mwachonda Acting General Secretary, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe and Simon Kiprono Chelugui CS Ministry Of Labour sign a back to work formula with Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union (KMPDU) at the Ministry Of Health Boardroom on 24th December 2020. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

When he took to the stage today, CS Mutahi Kagwe held the move by clinical officers as a milestone recognising that all health workers make up a team that needs to be “happy”.  The CS has stated that talks are ongoing with other teams such laboratory officer who issued a strike notice on Thursday and nurses who are currently on strike.  "We want to have a happy working team. Not just one team, not just some members of the team but everybody in the team," said CS Kagwe.  The CS has also confirmed that Covid-19 vaccination will be optional and no one will be forcefully inoculated.  "Even as you talk about the AstraZeneca vaccine, we are also negotiating with the others as well. We are looking at all the other vaccines that have been approved so that we will not be relying on one type of vaccine," said CS Kagwe.  Kenya has currently ordered 24 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, a quantity able to vaccinate about 20 per cent of the population.  The CS also confirmed that 11 people have succumbed to Covid-19 while the country records 156 new cases in the last 24 hours raising the total number of positive cases to 96,614. The new cases come from a sample size of 4,317 The CS says 65 more Covid-19 patients in have recovered, raising the total number of recoveris to 78,802.  of those who recovered, 61 come from home-based care while four are from different hospitals. The CS added that there are 661 Covid-19 patients hospitalised countrywide, 28 patients in Intensive Care Unit (ICU)  and 2,960 are under home-based care.


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