It's time Kenya took doctors seriously

From left: Doctors Hudson Alumera, Hudson Inyangala, Jackline Njoroge and Faith Mbabu, who died from Covid-19 complications.

Photo credit: Pool | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Doctors have been operating on the bare minimums, and now, in the face of a global pandemic, they have said they will not sacrifice their lives any more.

I support the doctors going on strike, just like how I support anyone in public service protesting by resorting to industrial action. I marched with the doctors when they wanted implementation of the collective bargaining agreement, and I stand with them again now.

You see, if there is anything that Covid-19 has taught us, it is the fact that those in public service are the most important pillars of the precarious society we live in. 

Not your politicians, in case there was any confusion. No. It's the people who serve us every day. The people packing your groceries and stocking your supermarket shelves. Your reliable boda boda guy who you’ve known for years and takes your packages everywhere. The doctor or nurse at the clinic who you go see every time mortality knocks on your door.

But the government is always hesitant to protect these people. In conjunction with some of the crooks who lead these public bodies and unions, every time a strike is announced, a parlay and money slipping ensues, and that is the end of that. Nothing gets better. Teachers don’t get paid more. Doctors are threatened with Cuban counterparts. Nurses go back to work. The spiral continues.

We are now paying for that spiral, for those greased hands. Doctors are dying in alarming numbers – much like Kenyans are too, and the frontline workers in this war are not being compensated enough to put their lives on the line.

And should they be compensated? Of course. Just because it is your job, your passion, your life’s work, does not mean you should have to do it for free (but if this is our train of thought, can we then make the president’s office an unpaid one? Maybe that would regulate the candidates who apply for the position).

It is shameful to me that doctors are treating patients in hospitals that they themselves cannot access because they do not have the insurance to do so. That’s right – doctors are not provided with medical cover. 

It is even more shameful that they are expected to continue to do so, to treat patients, us, without the tools necessary for their profession. A simple mask – you know, those ones that were promised to us at the beginning of the pandemic, to be given out for free – and the appropriate protective gear.

If doctors are not getting PPEs, then who is? And why are doctors expected to carry out their jobs without proper resources? Unfortunately, it is something that the medical fraternity has been clamouring for for years. And no one seems to care. 

Doctors have been operating on the bare minimums, and now, in the face of a global pandemic, they have said they will not sacrifice their lives any more.

I hope this sticks. I hope they are listened to, and that the nation takes doctors as seriously as they take their work. I hope mass action springs up in every profession treated unjustly, and somehow we can get this so-called democratic country back on track – or at least, a semblance of a track.

Am I saying people should die because doctors aren’t paid? No. I’m saying that doctors shouldn’t have to.