The Standard Group Plc is a multi-media organization with investments in media platforms spanning newspaper print operations, television, radio broadcasting, digital and online services. The Standard Group is recognized as a leading multi-media house in Kenya with a key influence in matters of national and international interest.
  • Standard Group Plc HQ Office,
  • The Standard Group Center,Mombasa Road.
  • P.O Box 30080-00100,Nairobi, Kenya.
  • Telephone number: 0203222111, 0719012111
  • Email: [email protected]

Private doctors to join strike in 7 days as church, Raila speak out

 Kenya Medical Association, CEO, Brenda Obondo during Address by KMA and Doctors specialist professional associations press briefing on the doctors strike at the Kenya Medical Association centre, Upper hill, Nairobi on 11th April 2024 [David Gichuru, Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga and a section of the clergy have urged the government to take steps to end the doctors' strike that has gone on for a month.

The statements came on the same day that the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) issued an ultimatum, warning that private doctors will withdraw their services in the next seven days in support of their colleagues.

Raila warned of a looming full-blown health crisis and called on both county and national governments to review intern doctors pay, payment of fees for doctors pursuing further studies, address doctors’ contracts, and the issue of ‘equal pay for equal work’.

He also criticised the alleged unprocedural sacking of doctors, especially by county governments.

"I appeal to counties that have terminated contracts of doctors for one reason or another to reconsider their actions and engage the doctors. The counties that have done so or that are in the process of doing so know themselves... I appeal to them to reconsider their steps.

"I believe that the above actions, if taken in consultation with the union, will see us avert the crisis that is building up in the health sector and pave way for less antagonistic engagement,” Raila said.

The religious leaders, under the umbrella Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, called on the State to engage the doctors and find a lasting solution. They also urged the government to clear National Health Insurance Fund debts before transitioning to the new Social Health Insurance Fund.

And in a move to break the impasse, Head of Public Service Felix Koskei expressed the government's commitment to resume negotiations with the striking doctors.

However, Mr Koskei stipulated that any meeting can only be scheduled on the condition that the doctors obey the court order and suspend their ongoing strike. In a letter dated April 9 and addressed to Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union Secretary General Davji Atellah, Koskei stated that the 'Whole of the Nation' committee would convene within 24 hours if the doctors suspended their strike "in full compliance with the order of the Principal Judge of the Employment and Labour Relations Court of Kenya."

While there have been other choleric calls from political leaders and senior county and government officials for the doctors to return to work, there is no official indication of progress on talks to resolve the impasse.

Deputy Director General for Health in charge of State Department of Public Health and Professional Standards Sultani Matendechero’s comments on KTN News on Friday point to a collective position adopted by both the national and county governments that doctors must return to work as ‘their issues are being addressed’.

Last Sunday, President William Ruto unstintingly said that the government has no money to meet the striking medics’ demands.

But for patients now forsaken and in various stages of pain and agony but now dependent on private hospitals, each passing day spells gloom with an even bleaker future if private doctors make good their threat.

This is not the first time the consultants’ association has mobilised the private sector for the doctors cause. A similar withdrawal of services happened in 2017 as part of a nationwide healthcare worker protest movement.

KMA President Simon Kigondu said, "We call on doctors to join those who have called for demonstrations on Tuesdays and Thursdays."

He was speaking at the association’s headquarters in Upper Hill, Nairobi, after holding talks with union officials.

The move to mobilise the private health sector, according to the doctors’ union, is a direct response to controversial remarks made by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chairperson Lynn Mengich, who claimed that the strike was not significantly impacting government officials.

"The concern that we have as average Kenyans who rely on the public health sector for their treatment, which these doctors behind me serve, is that they are being denied health care services," Dr Kigondu said, while condemning the SRC chair's remarks as "reckless and inconsiderate".

The announcement marks an escalation in the crisis that has also seen clinical officers down their tools.

The demos are aimed at piling pressure on the government to address long-standing grievances from the medical community, including inadequate salaries, lack of essential medical supplies and equipment, and a poor working environment.

These issues have plagued the sector for years, with the current strike pointing to deeper, systemic problems that may not be resolved soon.

The doctors' associations argue that the government's failure to address their demands stems from a lack of respect and prioritisation of political interests over the well-being of the general population.

"The government is more focused on scoring political points than solving the real problems facing our healthcare system. This is unacceptable. We cannot allow politics to be played with people's lives," said Dr Emily Rogena.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Deputy secretary General, Dennis Miskellah has condemned Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council for employing foreign doctors at the Kenyatta University Teaching Research and Referral Hospital (KUTRRH) arguing this is a blatant violation of worker’s rights and undermining efforts to improve domestic healthcare capacity despite their needs being half of the high salaries offered to the expatriate doctors.

In Kisumu, the branch officials of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers have criticised the Council of Governors for failing to recognise their Collective Bargaining Agreement.

Led by Owa Vincent, the Branch Chairman, the officials also took exception wit governor Peter Anyang Nyon’g for threatening to sack them.

Related Topics


Trending Now


Popular this week