Private doctors in Mombasa will join strike, KMPDU warns

KMPDU boss Chibanzi Mwachonda

KMPDU acting Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda addresses the press, after meeting with some 300 doctors from Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale counties, at the Kenya Medical Association's offices on January 8, 2021. 

Photo credit: Wachira Mwangi | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • KMPDU says that starting Monday, medics at private hospitals will join the strike if Governor Hassan Joho’s administration does not end the impasse.
  • Dr Mwachonda said that since they were fired last week, no doctor has been reinstated and that advertisements for the positions have followed.

Mombasa County’s health crisis is set to worsen as striking doctors have mobilised the support of their private sector counterparts.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) says that starting Monday, medics at private hospitals will join the strike if Governor Hassan Joho’s administration does not end the impasse.

With all public hospitals deserted and crucial services, including surgery, inpatient, outpatient and maternity suspended, residents are staring at more pain amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

KMPDU’s acting Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda, one of the dozens of doctors fired by the county government on Wednesday for boycotting work, said they will not bow to threats.

“We have agreed that if the grievances of Mombasa’s doctors are not addressed as per the return-to-work formula signed on October 2, their counterparts from the private sector will withdraw their services. This is not an issue affecting doctors from public hospitals alone, but a nationwide concern,” he said.

“This is just the beginning. If counties will not take the issues we have tabled as major concerns, things will worsen.”

Promotions

Speaking at the offices of the Kenya Medical Association (KMA) in Mombasa on Friday, after a closed-door meeting with more than 300 doctors from the region, Dr Mwachonda also said promotions in Mombasa must be implemented as per the October 2 deal.

He further said KMPDU will not tolerate the firing of doctors, nurses, clinical officers and other medics because of boycotting work.

Dr Mwachonda said that since they were fired last week, no doctor has been reinstated and that advertisements for the positions have followed.

“The doctors must be reinstated. Those are the bare minimums that will get them back to work.  We will not tolerate incompetence from the County Public Service Board. The Collective Bargaining Agreement and industrial action are constitutional rights under article 41,” he said.

KMPDU further warned counties against mistreatment, saying Laikipia, Kirinyaga and Mombasa lead in this.

Dr Mwachonda also urged the national and county governments to end perennial strikes in Kenya.

Council’s intervention

On Friday, however, the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council said the terminations were lifted after it intervened.

It urged the medics to report to work immediately as negotiations continue.

“The county government has given its commitment to achieving an amicable resolution of issues raised on immediate assumption of duty by the affected doctors,” said KMPDC's Chief Executive Officer Daniel Yumbya.

In a statement, Mr Yumbya assured the doctors that if they report to work immediately, they will not face victimisation or disciplinary action.

The council further said it is ready to send a representative to take part in negotiations between KMPDU and Governor Joho’s administration.

The council intervened after it was drawn to media reports that the county government had terminated the services of 86 doctors.

“In the spirit of ensuring uninterrupted delivery of health services and appreciating that the country is still battling the Covid-19 pandemic, the council has, through its representatives, held discussions with the county, which has reliably informed us that negotiations with KMPDU are well under way and that they are making good progress,” Dr Yumbya said.

Discontent

The union addressed the press after meeting officials of the KMA, Kenya Dental Association and Kenya Pharmaceuticals Association, and medics from the private sector in Mombasa.

While noting that at least 250 medics went on strike and that 86 of them were fired, KMPDU’s Coast branch secretary, Dr Abidan Mwachi, said the negotiations have revealed a lot of discontent on the part of health workers.

KMA’s Coast official, Dr Ibrahim Matende, urged Mombasa to resolve the impasse in order to prevent total withdrawal of services.

“As a family of doctors, it is difficult to have one group affected and another spared. The problem concerns the welfare of doctors and the population at large,” he said.

watieno@ke.nationmedia.com

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