Health workers on Monday across Kenya have put down their tools and embarked on a strike following the expiration of their 21-day notice issued on November 14.
According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union’s general secretary, Dr. Fredrick Oluga, the health workers are striking in order to push the government to implement a Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) which they signed in June 2013.
The medics are demanding for a review of promotions, job groups, deployment and transfer of medical officers as well as remuneration, as stipulated in the signed CBA.
Also, the health workers hierarchy are calling for the government to employ at least 1,200 more doctors yearly over the next four years to reduce work load while increasing the availability of doctors around the country.
”We are fighting for wananchi because the agreement will see the number of doctors increase and that they are better trained,” said Dr. Oluga.
”We have been lenient with our demands. It would cost the government about KSh 8.13 billion annually in arrears to achieve our demands. We know the government has the money, and it pains us to know some of this money is being lost through corruption.”
Coast region’s deputy chairperson Gitau Kagona, who asked health workers in his region not to come to work, said:
”We cannot continue to work in an environment which does not support growth of staff. We will support this strike because we want to demand our rights and we will not relent until we are heard.”
Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, in a press conference at Afya House in Nairobi, urged the health workers to resume their duties as the government tries to resolve the situation.
Dr. Mailu added that the strike notice given by doctors was premature and pre-emptive with the 90-day period accorded by the courts not yet lapsed.
“I appeal to clinicians and other health workers to continue providing services as we are keen to solve this issue. There is effort within the government to address the plight of health workers.”
”We are committed to address their concerns,” he said.
Nearly 5,000 health officers and interns have put down their tools at over 2,700 public health facilities nationwide including Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret.