An impression has been created by the striking interns (young doctors doing their internships) that I am the stumbling block to their demands for a 300percent salary increase.
They have even gone further to allege that I went to give a lecture in London rather than discuss with them. The latter is a lie the former is fabricated propaganda. The facts are as follows.
When the doctors came to me in March this year with the intention to form a union I advised and encouraged them. They promised, as young people, that we would work together to improve the delivery of health services in Kenya.
The first major action after their registration in August this year was to declare a trade dispute with the ministry without holding a single discussion with us on their grievances. I personally called their leaders to a meeting where I told them that all their grievances could be addressed immediately except the issue of salaries which needed the attention of the Salaries Review Commission as provided for in the Constitution.
I also advised them to set up a team to hold discussions with us to address the issues. This they did. The discussions were then extended to all health workers with similar grievances.
When a raft of proposals had been prepared to be discussed at a meeting which I chaired, the leaders of the doctors’ union walked off saying they wanted their issues to be discussed separately notwithstanding the fact that they had called a joint meeting earlier at which they had enjoined all health workers to the strike call.
At the end of our meeting which was sidelined by the doctors meeting, the other health workers decided to call off the strike since they were satisfied with the government’s steps to address their grievances.
Our team went on to meet with the doctors union only to be surprised that the union kept on bringing in new demands at every meeting, making it difficult to make progress on the core issues.
Moreover, the union has been absolutely dogmatic on the 300ercent salary increase, a proposal that could not possibly be handled in the two weeks they gave the government to avoid the strike.
It turns out that the doctors had made up their minds to have the strike at whatever cost since they believe it can trigger an Arab Spring in Kenya. I have tried to discuss with them through Twitter that this belief is naive and dangerous.
They, however, don’t believe that government is discussing with them in good faith, hence the only solution is not to compromise in any way whatsoever.
The end result is that Kenyans are suffering in hospitals. Calling Anyang’ Nyong’o names and misinforming Kenyans that am in London while am in Washington for a meeting will not help anybody.
Our technical team is in Nairobi ready to discuss with the doctors any time. It would help if they dropped the grandstanding and sought real solutions to their grievances together with our officials led by the Director of Medical Services, Dr Kimani.
Hon (Prof) P. Anyang’ Nyong’o – Minister for Medical Services