Kenya: Crisis to Hit Public Hospitals As Doctors Join Strike

Established in a City of Cape Town-owned community sports centre, the Khayelitsha Field Hospital will function as an extension of the adjacent Khayelitsha District Hospital, essentially expanding its capacity to treat moderate to severe COVID-19 cases.
21 December 2020

A paralysis will hit public hospitals from this morning after the government failed to convince nurses and clinical officers to call off their strikes. Doctors are expected to join the strike.

The work boycott, according to Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), will continue until the government addresses the doctors' demands.

"You will be required to stay home for your own safety until the government resolves the grievances in the strike notice. The strike action commences on Monday December 21 at 00:00 hours," KMPDU Acting Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda said.

The union wants comprehensive group life insurance for its members, more doctors hired and risk allowance.

The crisis is likely to deepen after the Ministry of Health and the Council of Governors washed their hands off the matter.

Governors council chairman Wycliffe Oparanya said only the national government can address the demands of the striking workers.

"County governments cannot pay risk allowance without authority from the Salaries and Remuneration Commission. They want a health commission, yet governors cannot pass such a law," Mr Oparanya said during the burial of Kabuchai MP James Lusweti in Bungoma County on Saturday.

Protective equipment

"We plead with the government to come out clearly and help counties solve these two problems."

In Nairobi, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe threw the ball in his Labour and Social Services counterpart Simon Chelugui court.

Mr Kagwe said his ministry has done all it can to ensure the safety of health workers by providing them with personal protective equipment.

He advised county governments to advertise vacancies of health workers.

"We will hire so that Kenyans don't miss out on essential services. Doctors and other health workers are willing to abandon Kenyans in their hour of need, yet we have bent over backwards to ensure their grievances are addressed," the minister said.

He said the strikes have been stopped by courts, and added that, the government has continuously engaged unions over the issues raised.

Clinical officers and nurses unions, which called their strikes two weeks ago, said the ministry and the Council of Governors have not shown interest in talks.

Dr Mwachonda said the governors and governing councils of universities have not taken action on issues the union raised.

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