, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – As the nationwide doctor’s strike entered its fifth day on Friday, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union and health ministry officials were expected to meet to seek a solution over the stalemate.
The doctors and government have in the past week maintained their hard-line positions.
This has left many patients in public health facilities suffering with even claims of death due to lack of treatment.
“The patients we have here are innocent so all of us should take responsibility for this and that is why all of us should contribute to ensure that these discussions and consultations come to an end immediately,” said Kenyatta National Hospital’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Lesiyampe.
Lesiyampe wants the government to immediately enter into a return to work formula with the striking doctors to ease the suffering of patients.
“Currently, we have called upon consultants particularly when we are dealing with complicated and life threatening situations and they have been very handy and they have attended to all life threatening situations, operations and even advice in some instances,” he said.
The hospital which is the largest referral in the country has been forced to downsize its operations due to the industrial action.
A meeting between the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union and Medical Services Ministry officials was on Thursday cancelled at the last minute without any explanation.
Late Thursday in Parliament, there was a heated debate over the matter as legislators put Medical Services Assistant Minister Kambi Kazungu on the spot over the stalemate.
“Tell us, how much you are giving each doctor?” demanded Ikolomani legislator Boni Khalwale to which the assistant minister responded: “It largely depends upon which cadre the doctor is but they are getting Sh30, 000 above what they earn as salaries.”
The MPs protested that the government had not done enough to end the strike that has so far paralysed operations in all public hospitals.
“Madam Speaker, the Public health sector is not collapsing in our assessment,” Kazungu said in defence of the sector.
“Madam Speaker, can the chair allow the minister to continue reading to us a meaningless statement?” the Ikolomani MP interjected adding: “He is telling us public health is not collapsing and we know patients have died everywhere Madam Speaker.”
But Kazungu denied the allegations and said no patient had died as a result of the strike adding that he was in possession of records to prove that.
The MPs asked that the matter be deferred so that the Prime Minister could give a solution to the matter on Friday.
“We want doctors back Madam Speaker, stories hatutaki hata kidogo (we don’t want stories),” Khalwale said.
On Wednesday, the doctors’ union rejected a second pay offer presented to them by the government, accusing the state of only addressing two items in its 13 point memorandum.
The government had proposed to allocate Sh7.1 billion as extraneous allowances to all health workers in seven months, as opposed to the three years it had indicated earlier.
However on the issue of salaries, the government maintained that it was the duty of the yet to be formed Salaries and Remuneration Commission.