, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 8 – Civil Society Organizations have called upon the government to move with speed to address the ongoing strike by medical practitioners to avert suffering by citizens admitted in public hospitals.
Addressing a press conference on the sidelines of the Annual Conference on Human Rights and Good Governance, Executive Director of the Institute of Social Accountability Wanjiru Gikonyo, urged stakeholders in the health sector to review the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed with the doctors in 2013 with a view of implementing it.
“The Council of Governors (CoG), Salaried and Remunerations Commission (SRC), Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) should immediately review the proposed scheme of service with a view of implementing it within the constitutional framework,” she recommended in a statement read on the behalf of Civil Society Organizations which included Transparency International and Katiba Institute.
According to Gikonyo, the fact that the CBA signed in 2013 was signed without the inclusion of the county governments – which are now responsible for most of the public health institutions – was and remains a major impediment to successful implementation of the deal that among other things recommended a 300 per cent pay hike for medics.
“The CBA – which is the basis of the industrial action, was negotiated and adopted without the inclusion of county governments,” she said.
“Therefore the CBA as it stands has breed distrust among the actors.”
The organizations noted with concern the impact the ongoing strike by doctors has had on citizens who have been left with no other choice but to concede to fate given that most them are unable to access medical care in private hospitals.
According to the organization, renegotiation of the CBA will provide an opportunity for clarity in implementation of a new salary scheme agreed upon by all stakeholders in the health sector.
The societies cautioned the Ministry of Health against taking measures which could easily be interpreted as threats to the striking health workers saying such actions would be counterproductive to ongoing talks.
“We recognize their (health workers) constitutional right to fair labour practice, fair remuneration, reasonable working conditions and industrial action,” read part of the statement. “We do not accept that there should be any intimidation or threats against the doctors in this regard.”
Representatives of doctors and nurses union yesterday walked out of Afya House in protests after dialogue with ministry officials came to a sadden halt due to what officials termed as intimidation.
“Already the government has moved to court and we have information that it wants to arrest the union officials,” Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union Chairman Samuel Oroko told reporters yesterday after talks with ministry official aborted.
On his part, the Presiding Convener of the Civil Society Reference Group Suba Churchill challenged the national government to increase resource allocation to health functions devolved to the counties in order to improve on the quality of service delivery.
“The national government has not allocated sufficient resources to follow devolved functions,” he asserted.
The organizations represented urged the striking doctors to immediately call off the strike even as discussions continue to alleviate pain from Kenyans in need of medical services.