Striking Kenyan doctors reject government offer

Striking Kenyan doctors reject government offer

Doctors working in Kenyan state-run hospitals on Thursday rejected a government offer aimed at ending a three-week long strike, as a court set a deadline for the dispute to be resolved.

Doctor with stethoscope
Doctor with stethoscope/Pexels

Some 7,000 members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) staged the walkout in mid-March to demand improved pay and better working conditions.

The labour court in Nairobi suspended the strike last month and on Wednesday ordered that negotiations to end the stalemate be completed in 14 days, local media reported.

The decision came a day after the government said it would meet some of the medics' demands, including paying arrears and hiring trainee doctors on permanent contracts, among the main grievances.

But the union voiced "deep dissatisfaction" with the offer.

"The negotiations failed. We have seen threats, intimidations and victimisation, but the strike is fully on," KMPDU secretary general Davji Atellah told AFP on Thursday.

"The government walked out of the negotiations, saying they would not engage unless we called off strike."

KMPDU said late Wednesday that the proposed offer did not have legally binding commitments and was "a clear sign of the government's decision to dishonour its promises".

It called on medical interns  who make up about 30 percent of doctors according to the union -- not to collect their contract letters from the government.

ALSO READ: KZN Health MEC urges patience from protesting jobless doctors

The strike, which clinical officers joined on Monday, has caused disruption in the East African nation's public hospitals, with patients jostling for the limited but costlier space in private hospitals.

Poor salaries and working conditions have led to an exodus of Kenyan medics to other African countries and further afield, with the local health sector beset by widespread and disruptive industrial action.

In 2017, Kenyan doctors staged a crippling 100-day nationwide strike that left public hospitals shut and patients unable to access basic medical care.

Dozens of patients died from a lack of medical care during the walkout, which ended after a collective bargaining agreement was agreed.

But doctors have accused the government of reneging on some parts of the deal, leading to the current strike.

Find us on social media

Follow the ECR Newswatch WhatsApp channel here

We are also on Facebook and X (formerly Twitter)


newswatch new banner 3

Show's Stories