Kenya Govt Urges Medics to End Nationwide Strike

Wed Apr 03 2024
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NAIROBI, Kenya: The Kenyan government on Tuesday called on doctors to call off a nationwide strike.

The strike, now in its third week, has paralyzed medical services in some government hospitals.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), an umbrella organization with more than 7,000 members, went on strike in mid-March over pay and working conditions.

Union leaders vowed to continue their actions despite a labour court order last month to end the strike.

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However, the government announced in a statement on Tuesday that it would respond to some of the demands of the medical staff.

The main complaints include speeding up the payment of arrears under the 2017 collective agreement and funding for the recruitment of trainee doctors.

The government said it wanted to resolve current disputes and end the cycle of industrial action in the health sector and promote constructive dialogue, address concerns and improve the health and well-being of all people”.

A statement signed by public service chief Felix Koskei said, “With that spirit in mind, the leadership of the KMPDU is urged to comply with its obligations under the court’s orders by immediately suspending the ongoing industrial action”.

A day earlier, the union had accused officials of trying to “intimidate and coerce” members into calling off the strike.

Poor pay and working conditions have led to the migration of Kenyan doctors to other African countries and other regions, and the local health sector has faced widespread and destructive industrial action.

Clinical staff began a national strike on Monday, calling on the government to improve working conditions, including better promotions and benefits.

They vowed to hold “mega demonstrations” in the capital Nairobi on Wednesday.

In 2017, country’s doctors staged a crippling 100-day countrywide strike that left public hospitals closed and patients unable to access basic care.

Dozens of patients died during the strike, which ended after the collective bargaining agreement was reached.

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