The war against Covid-19 could be greatly affected in Kenya, after a section of researchers at the Kenya Medical Research Institute (Kemri) went on go-slow over unpaid allowances.
Researchers at the facility are in the front line in the war against Covid-19 in terms of testing, and this could explain the reduced number of people being tested per day.
It is reported that doctors have been receiving their health risk, extraneous and call allowances from the government, while the non-medical scientists including entomologists, immunologists and parasitologists have been ignored.
The doctors had to move to court to start receiving the allowances in 2018.
Kemri so far has conducted over 6000 tests since March 13, when the first case was reported in Kenya.
“It beats logic that clinical doctors who are not even part of this arrangement are paid allowances, yet those doing the testing are not paid. What language do they want us to speak so that they listen to us? If is it a strike that will make them understand, then we will go on a go slow,” said a source quoted by the Nation.
The researchers work in the labs in shifts, and are not allowed to interact, which makes it hard to compare notes.
“The only way we can compare notes with our colleagues is through phone calls when we resume work as they leave. We spend our own money to make phone calls. We do not receive phone allowances, yet our colleagues are paid despite not doing much,” said the insider.
The situation is likely to cause bad blood between medics and researchers at the institution with salary disparities coming into play.
According to sources, a research scientist with a PhD working at the institute and who is not a medic earns Ksh391,000 while a medical doctor with a master’s degree working in the same institute earns over Ksh500,000.
“We deserve better treatment and a good working environment. How can a medical doctor right from the university earn more than a PhD scientist who is now working tirelessly to ensure that the target of Covid-19 tests is met every day?” posed the source who sought anonymity.
This is despite President Uhuru Kenyatta releasing Ksh2.66 billion to the ministry of Health towards the welfare of health workers.