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KMPDU holds firm on doctors' strike despite government's internship plan

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha.[ Boniface Okendo, Standard]

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) insists the doctors' strike is still on, despite the government’s plan to post medical interns from April 1.

In a press conference on Monday, March 18, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha said the government’s plan to post interns is part of a broader review of the internship policy.

“We have briefed the union that we have now received confirmation from Treasury and from April 1, we are going to start posting all the interns,” said Nakhumicha.

She said the government was committed to aligning the policy with universal health coverage objectives.

However, KMPDU Secretary-General Davji Atellah has refuted Nakhumicha’s statement of consensus and expressed confusion over the government’s intentions and the lack of clarity on the current policy’s shortcomings.

“We have not been informed of the problem with the current policy, so it is very difficult to have a conversation while we do not know what the issue with the current policy is,” said Atellah.

Atellah also insisted that any action regarding the posting of interns should be linked to the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of 2017, which is a court order and the foundation of the existing policy.

The union has denied any contempt of court, adding that the strike, which began last week on Thursday following a seven-day notice period, would persist until the government and the union agree on a return-to-work formula.

"We have fully complied with the court orders. The court gave six orders, and the sixth order called on us to suspend the strike pegged on the institution-one-nation approach. The other orders came before number six. So we must have that meeting, agree on the issues we have raised, and have a return-to-work formula that suspends the strike,” Atellah added.  

 Employment and Labour Relations Court had stopped the strike on Wednesday last week.  

Justice Byram Ongaya issued the orders in response to a certificate of urgency filed by James Kounah Advocate and supported by an affidavit from Jane Akunda, both dated March 12, 2024.

 Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) had moved to court seeking to stop doctors working at the hospital from going on strike after the lapse of the seven-day strike notice.

Among the issues the union wants addressed include implementation of the 2017 CBA and the posting of medical interns.



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