Reinstate Sh206,000 pay for intern doctors to end strike, Raila tells government

Raila Odinga

Azimio la Umoja leader Raila Odinga during a past function at Jaramogi Oginga Odnga Foundation in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Mr Odinga said the strike has disrupted healthcare services in 57 public hospitals
  • Azimio leader said the country now risks a full-blown crisis should the strike continue.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga has asked the government to reinstate the Sh206,000 pay for interns doctors to end the ongoing strike that has paralysed healthcare services in the country.

On Thursday, Mr Odinga said the government should suspend its decision to review the stipend for intern doctors as proposed by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) until the next Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) is signed.

The Azimio la Umoja leader also appealed to the county governments that have terminated contracts with the striking doctors to reverse their decisions to allow for negotiations.

According to SRC, intern doctors should be paid between Sh47,000 and Sh70,000, while nursing officer interns (degree) and clinical officer interns (degree) should get between Sh35,000 and Sh50,000. 

Clinical officer interns (diploma) should be paid between Sh27,000 and Sh35,000.

But Mr Odinga said the intern doctors should be paid well since they are the ones running level four hospitals and other public facilities across the country.

“There is no way an employer can reduce the salaries of employees’ mid-stream. That distorts everything in the life of the employee," Mr Odinga said.

Desperation and pain have in the last couple of weeks painted a grim picture in public hospitals as the strike by medics continues across the country.

President William Ruto has, however, maintained that the government has no money to increase doctors’ salaries.

For more than four weeks now, access to healthcare in public hospitals has been paralysed after members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union (KMPDU) downed their tools to demand payment of their salary arrears and the immediate hiring of trainee doctors, among other grievances.

The health sector further plunged into a crisis after the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) and Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (KNUMLO) counterparts joined the fray to push for the improvement of their welfare.

Mr Odinga said the industrial action has disrupted healthcare services in 57 public hospitals across the country, noting that the country was staring at a full-blown crisis should the strike continue.

The Opposition leader said counties that are considering firing doctors for participation in the strike should instead engage the medics in dialogue.

“I appeal to counties that have terminated contracts of doctors for one reason or another to reconsider their actions and engage the doctors. I believe engagement if taken in consultation with the Union, will see us avert the crisis in the health sector," hMr Odinga said.

Mr Odinga also wants the issue of doctors on contract to be addressed to end exploitation by high-end hospitals.

He faulted some high-end hospitals of engaging doctors for as short as a month.

"I was shocked to learn that some of our high-end hospitals are hiring doctors on as short as a month, two month or three-month contracts. This is wrong. The ministry is failing to stand up for the doctors to prevent exploitation and exposure to unfair practices," he said.

"The Ministry must lay down the rules that ensure fair, respectful and sustainable labour practices by both the public and private health providers," he added.

He cited complaints by doctors over a free-for-all environment where some employers have the free hand to decide what to pay.

The result, Mr Odinga said, has been an unbalanced system where doctors hired to do the same job are subjected to major remuneration discrepancies.