Striking doctors spell out conditions to resume work

Medics union

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union Secretary-General Davji Atellah (in suit) joins members in singing a song at the RFUEA Grounds in Nairobi on April 2, 2024.

Photo credit: Evans Habil | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The doctors said that they have had fruitful meetings with Public Service CS Mr Kuria.
  • On the employment of doctors, the government has a plan to employ over 2,000 doctors.

Doctors have said they will only end their strike if the Head of Public Service Felix Koskei and Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria lead talks to resolve the crisis.

The doctors said that they have had fruitful meetings with Public Service CS Mr Kuria, and accused Deputy Chief of Staff Josphat Nanok of intimidating and threatening them. 

“In the last meeting, I can assure you we were going to call off the strike. We had even met with our National Steering Committee and agreed on everything with the government. And they gave us the go-ahead to proceed and call off the strike,” Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Deputy Secretary-General Dennis Miskellah said.

“But Mr Nanok came and intimidated us to call off the strike, saying we were in contempt of court. This worsened the situation, and we made up our minds to go on with the strike.”

Mr Koskei had directed the National Treasury and the counties to budget for basic salary arrears to pay the doctors. Also, he directed the counties to remit statutory deductions from the doctors’ salaries.

The issue of the medical insurance being paid according to the 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was settled. 

“Mr Kuria had talked to the National Treasury officials and almost Sh1 billion was to be set aside for that purpose and Sh700 million was to go to school fees,” Dr Miskellah said.

For medical cover, the negotiation committee agreed that by July 1, all doctors will have an enhanced scheme. This was going to be given by the Ministry of Public Service.

On the employment of doctors, the government has a plan to employ over 2,000 doctors. For the Nairobi Metropolitan area, the governor had promised to take 13 of them.

Dr Miskellah said they agreed that the new CBA would be completed before April 30 for the government to factor in the salary increase in the next budget.

“If we have goodwill, then we are ready to call off the strike but if they are coming with threats and intimidation, then it may take time for us to call off the strike. We want Mr Koskei and Mr Kuria to chair our meetings and not other busybodies,”Dr Miskellah said.

While addressing the media, KMPDU Secretary-General, Dr Davji Atellah, said the people tasked to lead the talks have failed.

“The Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Health and county governments have no clear plan to resolve these issues. Where this matter has reached, we need the President to come out and defend Kenyans’ constitutional right to healthcare,” he said.

“As for the governors and Cabinet Secretaries, we are seeing egos at play yet Kenyans are dying. We cannot go back to the hospitals under coercion. We cannot accept threats or intimidation. We will only go back to workwhen we have been given a clear-cut plan on how our issues will be resolved.

“Our members have reached the end. We no longer have anything to offer except our lives. If they want to jail us then so be it. If they want to kill us, so be it. Who cares about the career? The government promised to take care of Kenyans. Doctors are Kenyans too. The government has abandoned Kenyans and the doctors. Until they put in place a mechanism to solve this, we won’t go back to work.”

As the doctors rallied, the officials representing public health officers, specialists and technicians, pharmaceutical technologists, and nutritionists/dieticians announced that they would go on strike in seven days, should the Ministry of Health and county governments fail to recognise their unions according to the Labour Relations Act.