NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 13 – The government has come into an agreement with faith based health facilities registered under the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) to attend to expectant mothers and other emergency situations as the impact of the doctors’ strike continues to be felt.
Speaking during a press conference Friday, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu stated that the facilities will be fully funded and urged County Governments to make the necessary drugs available to the organisations.
“We want to urge members of the public, those who need inpatient services or operations to deliver to go to the nearest faith based institution and the organisation will be able to claim it from the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF),” he explained.
While describing the effects of the doctors’ strike as critical, Mailu indicated that the government is doing everything possible to end the situation, but will not negotiate outside the law because the doctors’ CBA is illegal.
“Even after the court ruling yesterday, personally I met them from 6pm to pm and their position is the same that you conclude the CBA before we call off the strike,” he stated.
“To me that is not negotiations and therefore we leave the process of the court to take place, they are in contempt of court and that is not within our prevue. The ball is in their court.”
He explained that the offer to doctors was fair and they were being unreasonable in rejecting it.
“We believe the offer we have given doctors is significant enough for them to reconsider their position to restore services to Kenyans but that is entirely upon them to choose what to do,” he stated.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials have insisted that it will be difficult for them to resume talks after the court handed them a suspended sentence, and given the fact that the government has thrashed the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement.
He also stated that the government will give comprehensive statistics on the number of fatalities in the duration of the strike.
“We do know that we must have lost lives out of this situation that we find ourselves in. We must have lost what we might call avoidable deaths occurring. The Counties are now in a position to evaluate that and give us statistics because we are going to demand them,” he said.
He however indicated that the government will make sure that all Kenyans get access to medical services.
“When people go on strike, first of all the health seeking behaviour of the population changes. You simply decide you are not going to Mama Lucy Hospital simply because you have already been psyched that there are no services,” he said.
He urged striking doctors to come down from their hard stance and abide by the law.
“This pre-emptive notion and being afraid to go to the table to be able to accommodate the law and the constitution is the problem,” he stated.
He stressed that disciplinary action instituted against striking doctors will continue as scheduled.
“It is indeed within the regulations and within the Labour Relations Act that if you abscond from your place of duty, your employer has every right to ask you, where are you, show cause and if you do not express yourself appropriately then there are measures which have to be taken,” he said.