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MP: Kenya risks losing doctors to other countries

By Kevin Ogutu | January 3rd 2017

A former Director of Medical Services,Dr James Nyikal has warned Kenya could lose some of its best doctors and nurses to foreign countries if the on-going strike by medics is not resolved quickly.

With over four weeks since the doctors downed their tools, Dr Nyikal, who is also MP for Seme, says many African countries are waiting to employ the Kenyan doctors should the government fail to address their grievances.

Nyikal says shortage of doctors is a problem that almost every other country is grappling with, and a reason why the Kenya government should protect the professionals it has before they seek greener pastures elsewhere.

"Many of the striking doctors will leave the country. As you see the active ones on the streets, others are looking for jobs elsewhere. Its is probably Cuba that is self-sufficient in terms of professional doctors,and the Kenya government needs to think fast," he said.

He said it would be unfortunate for Kenya to train professional and competent doctors only for her to suffer brain drain because they cannot get competent pay commensurate with the services they deliver.

Nyikal who is a member of the parliamentary health committee and a Paediatrician /neonatologist by profession, now wants both the national and county governments to formulate a standard structure on doctors' remuneration that will end the strikes he terms as 'costly'.

"It is necessary that the national and county governments have a clear guideline that would streamline the human resource needs in the health sector with clear terms of service for doctors and medical practitioners that cuts across all the counties," said Nyikal.

He said as it is, each county was hiring its own doctors and nurses with their own terms of service, a situation that would see strikes in different parts of the country at different times even after the current strike shall have been resolved as the doctors in every county would have different grievances.

Nyikal faulted lack of sincerity on the part of the Kenyan government for the strike as it did not keep its side of the bargain, a situation that precipitated the strike which has brought anguish to the lives of many Kenyans.

"In 2013, there was a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) between the doctors and the government. So it is the government that reneged on the agreement that was made," said Nyikal.

Nyikal served as Director of Medical Services in the Ministry of Health from 2003 until the restructuring of the Ministry of Health in April 2008. He had worked in various government hospitals and private hospitals including Kenyatta National Hospital, Aga Khan, Nairobi, and M.P Shah among others prior to his appointment to public service.

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