NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 26 – Advertisements for hiring additional doctors and clinical officers to replace those currently on strike will be placed in the media on Thursday.
Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o says that the ministry aims to employ 1,000 doctors and a similar number of clinical officers.
“We have 300 interns, 500 medical officers, and 200 doctors on strike, so we are going to replace the striking doctors with people of equal qualifications by Friday. We are targeting 1,000 doctors and 1,000 clinical officers,” said the minister at his Afya House office.
He maintained that operations in government hospitals are returning to normal with more than two thirds of the medical officers going back to work.
Nyong’o insisted that consultants were working contrary to reports that they had also joined the doctors in the national strike that enters its second week on Thursday.
“Out of 3,000 interns, pharmacists and dentists; 2,000 are on duty and salaries for the 1,000 that have not reported to work have been stopped. Health facilities are now being well managed, even doctors who are in administration are spending less hours in management and are now taking more hours attending to sick Kenyans in hospitals,” he added.
The minister said that the government had no budget to pay the Sh92,000 monthly stipend to self sponsored registrars. He has accused the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union of shifting goal posts and having no clear reason to strike.
“The union is on strike because they want us to pay self sponsored students and that’s not possible. There is no vote for that kind of allocation in the budget. If you go to the university as a self sponsored student whether you study astronomy or alluvial geomorphology you remain privately sponsored,” he explained adding that university admission letters for the registrars did not have provisions for payment of stipend by the government.
Currently, there are about 450 registrar doctors out of who 200 are government sponsored and the rest are self sponsored.
The minister emphasised that the ministry was open to dialogue and arbitration that is currently on going at the Industrial Court.
“The State Law Office wrote to the Registrar of the Court on Tuesday seeking a date for the court proceedings to begin; this time round let’s give the court time to listen and make a decision on this matter and not arm twist the government to make unlawful decisions,” said the minister.
He warned that if the union continues with the strike, the government will have no option but to seek contempt of court orders.
Last Thursday, the government threatened to sack and replace striking doctors if they failed to return to work immediately.