NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – The Senate Health Committee has ordered Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu to work towards ensuring the seven jailed officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) are released by the end of the day so that negotiations to end the strike can resume.
This is after Mailu who was appearing before the committee Tuesday stated that he has met with the Attorney General and that the ministry was set to petition the Court of Appeal Wednesday to free the officials.
Mailu said the government will “do all within its powers to get the seven freed” after the Employment and Labour Relations Court sent them to jail for contempt.
“My prayer is that these young men are released from prison and within two or so days we can strike a deal. As government, we believe we’ve made several steps to ensure this is resolved. But things have to be done according to law,” he stated.
The Health CS further insisted that the Ministry of Health has been cooperating fully in the negotiations over a contentious Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“We need to resolve this issue for doctors to go back to work. By Sunday night, the mediation committee had agreed on issues standing on the way of the CBA and signed a document,” he revealed.
In the meantime, the CS admitted that Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri was disobedient to him during the talks seeking to end the countrywide doctors’ strike.
Mailu told the committee that he had sent Muraguri with a team from the ministry to be part of the negotiating team but the PS skipped the talks and in addition presented a separate list of members.
“Since February 8, Muraguri never attended any talks. On that day, I received a memo from PS Muraguri where he nominated Francis Musyimi to represent him. I had appointed four officers including the PS to be part of the mediation team,” he said.
The CS was put to task to explain whether the issue had escalated the doctors’ strike due to his lack of assertiveness but he maintained that tremendous progress had been made with the team that was in place.
“My participation was through the committee I formed to represent the ministry. As a ministry, we have been cooperating fully with the mediation team,” he stated.
He further indicated that he was not aware of any underhand deals going on and stated that he was fully engaged in the deliberations seeking to end the industrial action by doctors.
The committee has now directed him to appear before it together with Muraguri Wednesday morning to give a progress report on the efforts seeking the release of the doctors’ union officials.
He further revealed that all Health County Executive Committee members are in Nairobi to hold a meeting seeking to assess the situation in hospitals and come up with a way forward on the crisis.
“There’s a crisis meeting of all the Health CECs to evaluate the situation. Health CECs will map out what needs to be done to improve services and this will be ready by tomorrow,” he stated.
He revealed that in-patient services in the institutions are extremely affected as they require specialists while out-patient services were still being provided.”We know services in public institutions are terrible, but most referral hospitals are functioning.”
The KMPDU officials serving month-long jail terms are Samuel Oroko (Chairman), Ouma Oluga (Secretary General) among other officials Daisy Korir (Treasurer), Titus Ondoro (1st Vice Chairman), Allan Ochanji (2nd Vice chairman), Mwachonda Chibandzi (Deputy Secretary General) and Evelyne Chege.