NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 23 – The Ministry of Health on Tuesday pleaded with striking health workers to resume work and allow negotiations with the government and counties on their demands.
Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe said, “this is not the time for health workers to down tools aware of the health crisis brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Services have remained paralysed in public health hospitals since last week, with many patients opting for private hospitals.
Kagwe warned that health workers engaging in illegal strike will face disciplinary action from their employers.
“Employees who engage in an unprotected strike, such as the one healthcare workers are in, are liable for disciplinary action by their employer…I take note that some counties have already advertised for these jobs,” said Kagwe.
Kenyan doctors, nurses and clinical officers are on strike demanding enhanced medical allowance and adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) in hospitals after more than 50 succumbed to COVID-19 while in the frontline.
The Secretary-General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Dr. Chibanzi Mwachonda has vowed that the strike won’t be called off unless their demands are met.
Kagwe however, said county governments have addressed issues of their health workers including providing comprehensive insurance cover, isolation facilities as well as provision of adequate Personal Protective Equipment, although union officials have disputed the claim.
He said he had received confirmation from the Council of Governors that all counties have designated facilities to treat all their health care workers and their dependents.
On the issue of PPEs, Kagwe said “The Ministry has not received any complaint from counties that they have run out of PPEs.”
“Health is one of those functions that is devolved and is, therefore, largely a county government function and therefore, it’s important to note that issues raised by health workers’ unions are county-specific and ought to be addressed by respective county governments,” he said.