The nationwide strike by medical workers in Kenya has entered its second day on Tuesday, aggravating the disastrous effects of the major strike that has completely crippled the country’s health sector.
By Victor Kiprop
The health ministry and the medics’ union officials could not resolve the impasse on Monday despite holding a daylong closed-door meeting, thus pushing the strike to its second day.
Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Doctors Union (KMPPDU) Chairman Samuel Osoro insisted that the medics will continue with their strike until the government meets their demands.
“No amount of intimidation, no amount of propaganda will make us change our determination. We have heard lots and lots of dialogue and we are saying dialogue has to come to an end and we have to take action, and the action is doctors in Kenya will remain on strike until CBA is implemented,” he declared.
However in a swift rejoinder, Cabinet Secretary for Health, Cleophas Mailu termed the strike as ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’ insisting all medical workers must return to work and begin fresh negotiations over perks.
In the first day of the strike, the country had already incurred huge losses that have shaken it to the core.
Thousands of patients have been turned away and denied medical attention while some in critical status lost their lives in the process. In Nairobi, the country’s capital, over 100 mentally-ill patients escaped from the Mathari Hospital, while 22 prematurely born infants in Kitui General Hospital were left fighting for their lives.
“It is rather unfortunate that we cannot access health care in public hospital where we are supposed to be served to our ability to raise funds,” said Mr Patrick Mwangi, who had brought his father to the hospital from Murang’a, two days ago.
The doctors are demanding implementation of a new pay package agreed on in 2013 and say they will not enter into any other Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) until the salary structure negotiated and signed by the two sides — three years ago — is implemented.
However, the court had on Friday ruled against the mass action and instructed dialogue among key stakeholders including Health Minister Cleopa Mailu and the Council of Governors.
As the talks entered their second day, patients are calling out to the government and the medical workers to quickly resolve the dispute that has put the lives of millions of Kenyans in danger.
“I have not been attended to; not even a doctor to prescribe some medicines to ease the pain. The government and the doctors should consider our plights. We are suffering because of the strike. I am lying here helplessly, what do I do now, and I cannot afford a private hospital,” said Mr Kariuki,a patient whose left side of the body had been paralysed .