, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 12 – President Mwai Kibaki has for the first time spoken out on the ongoing doctor’s strike that has paralysed operations in public hospitals for the past one week.
In his address to the nation during the Jamhuri day celebrations, President Kibaki directed the Minister for Public Service Dalmas Otieno and all those involved in finding a solution, to immediately conclude the negotiations.
“I am concerned that the doctors have been on strike over the last one week. We need doctors in the hospitals to attend to the many Kenyans needing medical attention on daily basis. I appeal to the doctors to resume work,” the President pleaded.
This is a call that was also echoed by Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
“We have many problems. We have had a drought as well as floods in parts of the country. We have people complaining about the high cost of living. We have talked with the lecturers and doctors and asked them to remain patient,” the Prime Minister said.
The doctors’ strike entered its second week on Monday with the medics demanding a 300 percent salary increment, extraneous allowance and improvement of public health facilities.
“We must also adopt a give and take attitude during negotiations in order to avoid a disruption in service delivery in our nation,” the Head of State said.
Hospitals like Kenyatta which is the largest referral have been forced to downsize their operations due to the Industrial action.
Previous negotiations between the government and the Kenya Medicals Practitioners and Pharmacists Union have bore no fruit with both sides sticking to their hard-line stances.
The doctors have 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.