Raila Odinga breaks silence, urges government to resolve doctors' strike

Azimio Chief Raila Odinga. [The Standard]

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has asked the government to address the ongoing doctors’ strike, in a bid to end the health impasse.

Odinga on Thursday, in a statement emphasized three critical issues for the government's consideration.

Firstly, he called on the urgent need to address the matter of salaries and improving working conditions for medical professionals.

"I appeal to the government to reinstate the Sh206,000 pay for interns until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement negotiation, which is imminent," said Odinga.

He noted the importance of fair compensation, suggesting that medics should receive the salaries they have rightfully earned over the past seven years.

Additionally, Odinga called upon both the Ministry of Health and County governments to fulfill their financial obligations to doctors pursuing advanced studies. He highlighted the Ministry's responsibility to cover tuition fees, which it has neglected since 2018, and reiterated the Counties' role in ensuring salaries for doctors in further education.

"I urge the Ministry of Health to promptly engage with doctors and their educational institutions to settle outstanding fees, allowing doctors to complete their studies. The Ministry should also collaborate with Counties to resolve payment issues for doctors facing prolonged educational delays due to administrative errors," he said.

The Azimio chief also urged the Health Ministry to safeguard doctors against exploitation through short-term contracts.

Expressing concern over reports of high-end hospitals hiring doctors on contracts as brief as one to three months, he called for fair and sustainable employment practices.

"I am dismayed to hear reports of doctors facing abrupt contract terminations. I appeal to the concerned counties to reconsider such actions.”

Odinga's statement follows the escalation of the nationwide doctors' strike, prompting the Kenya Medical Association and Doctors' specialist professional associations to call for private health facilities to join the industrial action.

"In the coming week, we will rally the private sector to support our cause by suspending services. We urge doctors to participate in the planned demonstrations on Tuesdays and Thursdays," KMA declared in a joint press conference today.

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