, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 13 – A countrywide strike by doctors kicked off on Thursday as the medics downed their tools to push for the implementation of a pay deal struck late last year.
A spot check by Capital FM News revealed that only emergency cases at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH) – the country’s largest – were being attended to.
“There is a go-slow but they are helping in emergency cases and in doing tests that are urgently needed,” one of the patients said.
“We have been here for a long time. Services are taking long to be delivered and we just want the strike to come to an end,” said another.
KNH Chief Executive Officer Richard Lesiyampe however assured that the referral hospital had employed some doctors to ensure that patients were treated. He added that the hospital would also look into other temporary solutions that would hold off the effects of the strike.
“Our emergencies section is working but we are going to conduct meetings that will help resolve this issue because we cannot get a quick fix solution,” he said.
Speaking elsewhere, Medical Services Minister Anyang’ Nyong’o however dismissed the industrial action saying it was illegal because the government had already addressed the doctors’ concerns.
Nyong’o said a return-to-work formula had been realised and doctors should resume work.
“I don’t think there is a doctor who is employed by the government who is participating in the strike. They are adults and they know the law,” he said.
Lesiyampe further reiterated Nyong’o’s remarks saying nine items in the formula had been sorted out and it was only the issue of paying self sponsored registrars that was yet to be addressed.
He reminded doctors of the oath they took to save lives and urged them to be patient as the government worked towards resolving the impasse.
“We at KNH are actually victims of circumstances; we are actually in the cross fire because ours is not to pay individuals but to provide the working environment. So we hope that this issue will be brought to an end soon so that patients do not suffer,” he argued.