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Right to Health on Trial

By Vincent Murithi Kirimi | January 13th 2017
Today marks the 40th day of the Kenya Doctors’ Strike that has left the health sector in the country crippled and in jeopardy. Over two-thirds of the health facilities in the country mostly the public General and Referral hospitals have remained deserted by doctors for the better part of late last year and early this year.

The ‘top brains’ (as they like being referred to) in the country have instead remained on the streets, in boardrooms, in courts and even have been hosted in the highest office in Kenya but there seems no sign of white smoke is due anytime soon.

They have remained adamant on one message to the government, that of implementing the 2013 CBA.

I choose not to delve on the CBA simply because it has now become a bone of contention between the two levels of government, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission on who signed the 27-page document, its legality in now the devolved system and the degree of rationality of sustaining such high payrolls that doctors are demanding.

I am more concerned rather with the immediate effects, gains, and losses with regard to this prolonged strike. I remain sympathetic to that Leukemia victim whose life fortune remains wholly on the Kenyan doctor since he/ she can’t afford services in a private hospital.

That hopeless Kenyan lying on hospital bed after surviving a road accident caused by that reckless driver over speeding or under influence of alcohol oblivious of the lives under his control and now after long search for the rare O-ve blood group to match his has successfully found a donor but where is the doctor to carry out the transfusion?

 Awe unto that young soul that was due to undergo a kidney transplant early this year due to kidney failure but this remains unfulfilled wish for as long as doctors don’t soften their hearts.

The government has engaged these civil servants in talks to get a solution to this but in futility. The latest resolve has been to hire foreign doctors from Cuba and India. How efficient will their service be to our country?

 I agree to the fact that India's quality of medical services remains revered by many and high rated no wonder the high outflux of patients from Kenya to India. But look here, their lowest paid doctor earns an equivalent of Sh 303,092 per year as compared to Kenya’s lowest paid doctor earning Sh 1.52 million per year despite our Gross Domestic Product being much lower than that of India.

For their service to be efficient and effective it means we should hire more than the current serving doctors that stand at 5000 doctors serving 40+ million Kenyans. That ratio is alarming.Is this attainable? NO.

We all agree we cannot prioritize wealth at the risk of health. Our country’s economy currently at 5.9% is less likely to withstand this level of demand.Let our doctors reconsider the options available and the offers currently at their disposal.We hope to see that silver lining in Kenya's health sector soon.
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