, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 17 – Cabinet Secretary for Health James Macharia is pleading with health workers to end their strike and resume duty.
Macharia on Tuesday said the implications of the strike were far reaching, as patients continue to die as a result of failing to receive much needed medical care.
“When key service providers like the health workers go on strike it is very distressing because it is a matter of life and death.”
“Teachers can go on strike even for three months and nobody will die; unfortunately, though, we will suffer in terms of education.”
“The issue of money is not worth losing life over,” explained Macharia.
The Health Secretary added that the practitioners should apply their Hippocratic Oath and treat patients.
He said the ministry has been working out modalities of promoting medical tourism in Kenya saying that it will only be successful if the workers return to work.
“It is encouraging to see the medical industry is gearing towards boosting medical tourism in the country. Today many patients from around East Africa are opting to come to Kenya and receive treatment,” Macharia said.
“This very lucrative initiative is only possible if both the workers and the government are on the same team as opposed to the current stalemate that we are observing,” he added.
The health workers strike entered its seventh day on Tuesday even after the Governors threatened to dismiss the striking workers from office.
The Industrial Court on Monday extended orders prohibiting health workers in public hospitals from going on strike until December 24.
The order came after the Attorney General through his representatives Paul Ojwang and Peter Ngugi applied for extension of the barring orders saying that they were unable to serve the Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Kenya Health Professionals Union, Seth Panyako (Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General), Matendechero Sultani (KMPDU Secretary General) and Moses Lore – who are listed as respondents in the case – because of public holidays on December 12 and 13.
In Monday’s ruling, the Industrial Court said the AG should serve all parties within seven days before an inter-partes hearing to be held on December 24.
The AG wants the strike declared illegal and the health workers ordered to resume duty immediately.
He argues that allowing the strike goes against the Constitution.