NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 6 – Cases of deaths and agony have been reported in various parts of the country as provision of healthcare in public hospitals remained paralysed for the second day as doctors continued with their strike in a row with Government over new contracts.
The industrial action by the nearly 5,000 doctors, clinicians, pharmacist, dentists and other health professional affected service delivery at over 2,700 public health facilities as patients seeking treatment were turned away and referred to privately owned health facilities.
On Tuesday, the union officials were held up in a closed door meeting with the Ministry of Health officials in a bid to resolve the impasse that has led to suffering of patients in public institutions.
Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Doctors Union (KMPPDU) Chairman Samuel Osoro insisted that the medics will continue with their strike until government meets their demands.
“No amount of intimidation, no amount of propaganda will make us change our determination. We have heard lots and lots of dialogue and we are saying dialogue has to come to an end and we have to take action, and the action is doctors in Kenya will remain on strike until CBA is implemented,” he declared.
The doctors are demanding implementation of a new pay package agreed on in 2013 and say they will not enter into any other Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) until the salary structure negotiated and signed by the two sides — three years ago — is implemented.
While the doctors want the revised pay package implemented in arrears and backdated to 2013, the government, through the Ministry of Health and the office of the Attorney General had cited legal bottlenecks which it says, have rendered the CBA in dispute invalid.
This will see the lowest paid doctor pocket Sh342,000 and the highest pocket slightly over Sh940,000 away from the current remuneration of Sh500,000 for the highest paid and Sh40,000 for the lowest paid.
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu told a news conference held Monday evening that police officers have been deployed at major hospitals to protect health workers who may choose to report for duty even as their colleagues stay away.
This comes after KPPMDU General -Secretary Dr Fredrick Oluga threatened to lead striking doctors and nurses to storm Kenyatta National Hospital to eject the hospital’s management and other health workers who had opted to stay behind providing emergency care.
The officers have also been deployed to prevent chaos in health facilities as the government says it is working towards ending the stalemate with the medics.