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Apologise over brutality or we'll not treat you, doctors tell police

 Dennis Miskellah (centre) leads KMPDU officials in expressing solidarity with intern doctors. [David Gichuru, Standard]

Doctors have vowed not to attend to police officers visiting hospitals if no apology is offered for the brutality law enforcers meted out against medics as they demonstrated against the delayed posting of intern doctors.

The interns have been waiting, some for more than one year, to undertake the compulsory internship.

Dr Davji Atellah, the secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), who was leading the peaceful demonstration, was among those brutalised by police officers.

This came as the medics threatened to cripple service in both public and private hospitals in a nationwide strike planned for Monday.

Medical unions issued the strike notice as they protested against violence unleashed against their colleagues on Thursday.

Police officers lobbed teargas canisters at the doctors, badly injuring Dr Atellah.

Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) also condemned the act, saying the right to peaceful assembly was a fundamental pillar of democracy.

“It is evident that on Tuesday this week, the leadership of KMPDU adhered to legal protocols by notifying the authorities of their planned protest... It is distressing that what should have been a peaceful exercise of the right to assembly turned into a scene of violence and injury,” KNHCR said in a statement.

KNHCR urged Health CS Susan Nakhumicha to initiate dialogue with KMPDU to avert disruptions in the provision of health services.

The doctors said from Monday, they will paralyse services in health facilities across the country.

“Our members have agreed that if the police will not apologise for this heinous act, the law allows us to withdraw our services and refuse to treat any member of the National Police Service,” KMPDU Deputy Secretary General Dennis Miskellah said.

He added: “All doctors, unions, and healthcare workers both in the public and private sector shall carry out a nationwide demonstration starting on Monday 4, 2024 until the police officers who attacked the doctors are charged in court for his aggressive crimes.”

Apart from Atellah who sustained serious injuries in the head, at least 25 medical interns suffered injuries.

On Thursday, chaos erupted as police violently dispersed hundreds of doctors peacefully marching to the National Treasury to demand the release of funds needed for medical internship placements. Kenya Union of Journalists, Independent Medico-Legal Unit, and Trade Union Congress of Kenya condemned the police ovetr attack Atellah. 

“KMPDU condemns the brutality the police meted out against unarmed peacefully demonstrating doctors, and the attempted assassination of our secretary general,” read the statement.

Wiper Leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Cotu secretary-general Francis Atwoli also condemned the police over the violence.

Kalonzo, who visited Atella in hospital, said the incident was a violation of the doctors’ constitutional rights. “This tragedy brings to mind the 75 Kenyans who lost their lives between March and July last year during the nonviolent Maandamano rallies over the high cost of living.”

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