20 December 2013

Kenya: Striking Health Workers Drop Some Demands

Nairobi — Striking health workers have now softened their stand on demands they were making, but insist they will not go back to work, until the government assures them on devolution structures.

Vice Chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, Vitalis Ogola on Friday said they have among others dropped their demand for the setting up of Health Service Commission.

Ogolla said they will allow the government ample time to establish the Commission which they had earlier wanted created as soon as possible.

"As a Union we have decided that we will concede much ground especially on the issue of creation of a Health Service Commission."

"The public ought to know that allegation of us demanding for a referendum is untrue and for the sake of stopping the strike we have dropped our demands for now," explained Ogola.

Chairman of Kenya National Union of Nurses Jophinus Musundi who also addressed the press conference reiterated that they will not go back to work until their other demands are met.

Musundi urged the government to also stretch out an olive branch to the union and address the concerns raised by the medics.

"We want to assure our colleagues to continue with their strike until we get all the things that we demanded from the national government before we the county governments address us."

"As health workers we are not asking for much, we are simply fighting for democracy," he added.

The health workers have for 11 days boycotted their work stations citing demands that their salaries should be paid by the national government even as the services are devolved to the counties.

Officials also added that they have been having meetings with the national government and they have been reassured that their demands will be addressed.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday asked Governors to seek alternative solutions to ensure that health facilities in their counties continue running if the strike by medical personnel persists.

The Head of State explained that the industrial action taken by the health workers contravenes their Hippocratic Oath and basic principles of humane consideration for fellow Kenyans.

"In the event of continued disagreement, we encourage Governors to make urgent alternative arrangements to ensure all health facilities in their Counties are manned and operational."

"Kenyans have a right to receive essential services and this is not a matter to be negotiated," Kenyatta stressed.

He urged the union officials not to be pompous in their demands adding that their current boycott of their work stations is jeopardizing the lives of patients.

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