The crisis in the public health sector deepened on Monday as doctors joined nurses and clinical officers in nationwide strike even as Covid-19 continues to ravage the country.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), accuses the government of neglecting the welfare, safety and health of healthcare workers.
According to the union, the medics have no medical insurance, workman injury benefits and compensation and also lack Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) hence increased risk of infection.
As of November, at least 30 healthcare workers including 10 specialist doctors, had succumbed to Covid-19.
“The grievances raised have not been resolved for the past 8 months, efforts to mediate the stalemate between the health unions by the National Assembly and Senate have failed. This greatly hampers the fight against COVID19 in a country with an acute shortage of doctors, ” KMPDU tagged the World Health Organization (WHO) in a tweet on Sunday night.
@WHO The Kenya government has neglected the Welfare, Safety & Health of health care workers. No provision of medical insurance, Workman injury benefits & Compensation & lack of adequate quality PPEs.
Healthcare workers have died & now facing threats of sacking for protesting pic.twitter.com/rfxU7O2HTi
— KMPDU (@kmpdu) December 20, 2020
Nurses and clinical workers downed their tools a fortnight ago after the government failed to address their concerns that are related to those of doctors.
The strike saw many Kenyans remain unattended in public hospitals.
The doctors had suspended their strike which was scheduled to begin on December 7 to give room for dialogue.
“Effective Monday 21st December 2020, 00:00 hrs the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union wishes to inform members of the Kenyan Public that doctors will withdraw their labour in accordance with article 41 of Kenyan Constitution due to unresolved issues after 8 months of engagement between KMPDU and the Government of Kenya and lapse of the 21 day Strike Notice issued on 16th November 2020 and suspended for an additional 14 days, ” a notice issued on Saturday reads.
According to the union, the following cadres of doctors will participate in the strike: Medical Officer Interns, Pharmacists, Pharmacist Interns, Dentists, Dental Officer Interns, Medical Specialists (Consultants), Medical Officers, all medical superintendents, county directors of health, doctor administrators and sub-county medical officers.
Meanwhile, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe has threatened to have the striking medics fired.
The CS on Saturday directed county governments to advertise vacancies for the striking healthcare workers.
He urged over 8,000 unemployed nurses to apply for the vacancies once advertised.
“Wale ambao wako nje ambao wanataka kazi na wanataka kuendelea na kazi wakati huu ndio sasa walete barua zao waajiriwe kazi na hiyo maneno iishie hapo. Lakini sana sana tungependa kuendelea na wale ambao tuko nao tussikizane vizuri tuendelee na kazi. Hiyo ndio ile Krismasi ingekuwa mzuri. Hatutaki mtu kusema mwaka uliopita alikuwa na kazi and then next year you are a statistic for jobless people,” he said.
The CS was speaking on the sidelines of the funeral of former Cabinet Minister Joseph Nyagah in Mbeere, Embu County.