MORE than 50 patients are dying daily in public hospitals following the doctors strike. STRIKING doctors have dared the government to sack them. "Patients are dying and yet the (Medical Services) minister (Anyang Nyong'o) is busy playing PR by visiting hospitals to assess the operations," Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union secretary general Were Onyino said.
"We are losing so many babies and the doctors offering minimum services have complained that they are overwhelmed." He was speaking at a press briefing to respond to Nyong'o threat to sack them and withhold their salaries. "We are ready to go on strike for up to three months if any of our member's salary will be withheld. We will not return to work until our demands are met," Were said.
Assessing operations at the Kenyatta National Hospital, Nyong'o ruled out negotiations with the doctors out of court. He said the matter had taken a legal dimension, which made the strike illegal. However, Onyino said the case was thrown out by the court after the government failed to show up at the hearing on Monday.
"For a doctors' strike to be allowed to go on, with no single government official making effort to meet the union to officially discuss the end of this stalemate clearly portrays the lack of leadership at the Ministry of Health," Onyino said. They have called on doctors who have been offering minimum services to emergency cases to down their tools and join them in pushing for reforms and further expose the rot in the public health sector.
KPMDU said the strike, entering day 14 today was a last resort. Their demands will cost the government Sh400 million. Were said they will resume work if the government heeds their call to implement the return-to-work formula that ended a strike in December last year. "This provision has to be implemented in spirit and letter. It is expected to pave the way for a collective bargaining agreement process as demanded by our members," he said.
Were appealed to other unions, including COTU, to team up with KMPDU and push the government into action, and further called on the Kenya Human Rights Commission to investigate and sue the state for human rights violation.