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State temporarily blocked from hiring foreign doctors

At the height of the 100 day long doctors’ strike, the Council of Governors had threatened to recruit doctors from as far as Cuba/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 31 – The Employment and Labour Relations Court has prohibited the hiring of foreign doctors by the government pending the hearing of an application challenging employment of 500 medics from Tanzania.

Issuing the order Thursday, Justice Nelson Abuodha granted five applicants an interim injunction blocking the Ministry of Health or the Council of Governors (CoG) from employing the doctors.

The petitioners – Dr Kahindi Menza, Dr Yunas Mohamed, Dr Lillian Magara, Dr Victor Mutisya and Dr Aldrin Gulenywa – challenged the move to employ foreign doctors arguing that there are trained medical practitioners in the country who are yet to be employed.

In the application filed on Tuesday, the five have sued Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, CoG Chairperson Peter Munya, the Public Service Commission (PSC) and the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) for failing to act in the best interest of Kenyan doctors.

The practitioners also want the court to compel the government to absorb about 1,400 medical practitioners said to be jobless despite meeting the requisite qualifications to practice medicine in the country.

Justice Abuodha ordered the petitioners to file and serve a substantive application within 21 days pending the mentioning of the matter in court on April 19 for further directions, hearing and disposal.

On March 19, State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said the government would deploy 500 doctors from neighbouring Tanzania in public hospitals across the country after President John Magufuli of Tanzania approved a request by Kenya’s Health Ministry.

CS Mailu had at the time said Kenya was facing a shortage of doctors putting the doctor patient ration at 1:6,000.

Mailu downplayed claims that Tanzanian doctors were not qualified to work in Kenya saying medics in any of the five East African Community member states were qualified to work in Kenya.

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