, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 13 – Doctors were due to go back to work on Tuesday after their nationwide strike was called off on Monday night after a deal with the government that will see a taskforce established to review their working conditions.
The deal was thrashed out in a closed-door meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta and attended by Ministry of Health officials from 3pm until late Monday.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Boniface Chitayi said the agreement also entailed a salary increase, which will be effected in two phases, with the first coming into effect this month and the other in July next year.
“The taskforce which will comprise of six doctors and six government officials is expected to be set up by tomorrow and will present their report to the Ministry of Health and other stakeholders in 11 days,” he said.
He further stated that the government had committed itself to making available Sh200 million for training Sh85 million to settle debts, Sh54 million for medical personnel currently in training and a further Sh61 million for other training needs.
He stated that emergency call allowances will be made available with immediate effect.
He pointed out that 200 new doctors will be recruited to ease the load on the over-stretched team at the public hospitals.
The union boss made it clear that the agreement also nullified any form of victimisation of the doctors.
The talks came as President Mwai Kibaki for the first time spoken out on the ongoing doctor’s strike that has paralysed operations in public hospitals for the past one week during the Jamhuri day celebrations.
In his address to the nation, President Kibaki directed the Minister for Public Service Dalmas Otieno and all those involved in finding a solution, to immediately conclude the negotiations.
The call was also echoed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
The medics had demanded a 300 percent salary increment, extraneous allowance and improvement of public health facilities.
Hospitals like Kenyatta which is the largest referral had been forced to downsize their operations due to the Industrial action.
Previous negotiations between the government and the Kenya Medicals Practitioners and Pharmacists Union failed to bear fruit with both sides sticking to their hard-line stances.
The doctors thrice rejected government offers terming them inadequate.
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 has maintained that it was the duty of the yet to be formed Salaries and remuneration commission.