On September 13, 2012, the medical interns at the University of Nairobi went on strike demanding that the government pays a stipend of Sh92,000 a month to self sponsored students doing their internship at the Kenyatta National Hospital.
Both the University of Nairobi and the Kenyatta National Hospital managements have gone to a great length in explaining this issue in articles this past week. I will, however, try to give a full background to this issue and why both the university and KNH have declined to meet this demand.
When students graduate with medical degrees from public universities in this country, they are required to work with the government for at least three years before they proceed for post-graduate studies either locally or abroad. When the University of Nairobi or Moi University admits them for these studies, they do their clinical or practical work at the KNH under an arrangement between the hospital and the university.
During this time they are called interns or registrars. Having been employed in government they continue earning their salaries as well as the following: extraneous allowance of Sh60,000 per month, house allowance of Sh24,000 per month among other allowances.
In summary, they enjoy the same pay package as any other doctor working in the public service plus allowances commensurate with their responsibilities. KNH further provides registrars with housing facilities within its premises at subsidized rates of between Sh7,500 and Sh15,000.
There are, however, students who, soon after they graduate, choose to work for the government for less than three years and then resign to sponsor themselves for post graduate studies in what is essentially a parallel program. Some other students are sponsored in their studies by foreign governments, companies, parents and so on. All these are treated as self sponsored students by both the university and the government.
While doing their internship they go through the same program as those sponsored by the government. They are all expected to put in 80 hours of work per week at the KNH as part of their training. It must be noted that it is in the interest of every post graduate student to have as much practical experience as possible while on internship. In other words, doing more than 80 hours is actually good use of one’s time so as to get even better experience under the supervision of a specialist.