, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 27 – Doctors have once again taken to the streets to demand the immediate deployment of 700 graduate medics to hospitals.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union Secretary General Boniface Chitayi said at a news conference on Tuesday that the country had a shortage of 37,000 doctors with a doctor-to-patient ratio of one doctor for every 17,000 patients.
He said this was way below the World Health Organisation recommendation of one doctor for every 1,000 patients.
“This delay in the posting of these doctors greatly undermines service delivery and a further delay in the posting of these doctors can only result in deaths of innocent Kenyans in hospitals which are operating with an overstretched workforce,” Chitayi said.
The union has demanded that the doctors be posted by April 1 failure to which they will take further action. He however refused to substantiate what action they would take.
“The posting of doctors every year is a recurrent expenditure of the government and therefore we know that these funds are available,” he insisted.
The doctors who staged a protest march to the Treasury and Afya House (the headquarters of the Ministry of Medical Services) also complained that the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) had failed to distribute drugs to hospitals. They called for a parliamentary probe into the agency.
“Many hospitals are operating without insulin. Many hospitals do not have IV (Intravenous) fluids and frequently when KEMSA supplies anything to the hospitals it is usually ethanol and this is not right,” he said.
In December last year, doctors went on a 10-day strike where apart from salary increment they were demanding for employment of more health workers.
However, the Ministry of Medical Services insists that these demands can only be met through a supplementary budget that has to be approved by Parliament which is on recess until mid April.