Kenyan doctor’s strike enters fifth week
Church leaders have called upon Kenyan healthcare workers to end their five week strike and return to work at the East African nation’s public hospitals. In a New Year’s Eve address the Bishop of Mombasa, the Rt. Rev. Julius Kalu said: “I am pleading with those who are taking care of the less privileged, especially doctors, to continue with the work they were called for. People are dying every day due to lack of medical attention and the situation is worsening.”
Kenya newspapers report that upwards 40 people have died across Kenya after doctors and nurses walked off their jobs at state hospitals last month. Doctors have demanded a three hundred per cent pay rise from the Ministry of Health. On 14 Dec 2016 the government struck a deal with the Nurses Union, reopening hospitals. However, the doctors have rejected the government’s initial offer.
Medical treatment is available at Kenya’s private hospitals, but the fees for service put these treatment options out of reach for the overwhelming majority of Kenyans. The government has threatened to import doctors from Cuba and India to replace the striking physicians, but has not acted upon the threat.
In 2013 the Ministry of Health reached an agreement with the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU) to hike the salaries of doctors at state clinics by 300 per cent. However, the promised pay rise never materialized, prompting the union to call a strike last month.
President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a statement at the start of the strike, saying: “To our civil servants and especially the striking doctors and nurses, nobody has refused to talk with you,” but has been silent ever since.
Bishop Kalu thanked doctors who were seeing patients at their homes during the strike, but urged the union to rethink its strategy, urging them to honor their Hippocratic oaths and remember their special obligations to all human beings.