Kenyan Government Doctors Reach Accord, Strike Comes to an End

Kenyan Government Doctors Reach Accord, Strike Comes
Kenya Health Ministry Says Deal Signed To End Doctors' Strike • Channels Television

Kenyan Government Doctors Reach Accord, Strike Comes to an End

Kenyan public hospital doctors have reached a pivotal agreement with the government, signaling an end to a strike that commenced mid-March, confirmed by union and government officials. The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), representing over 7,000 members, initiated the strike on March 15, primarily advocating for the clearance of salary arrears and the prompt recruitment of trainee doctors, among other grievances.

In a symbolic gesture captured on television, union representatives and senior government officials sealed the deal with a handshake after signing the requisite documents. Susan Nakhumicha, the Minister of Health, announced the successful conclusion, stating, “We have signed a return to work formula, and the union has called off the strike.”

The salary arrears, as disclosed by the union, stemmed from a 2017 collective bargaining agreement (CBA). Additionally, doctors pressed for adequate medical insurance coverage for themselves and their dependents.

Dhavji Atellah, KMPDU’s secretary-general, reiterated the sanctity of workers’ rights enshrined in the CBA, affirming the union’s commitment to safeguarding them. Regarding the demand for hiring interns, Atellah explained that while it remains pending in court, an agreement was reached for their placement within 60 days.

However, the government cited financial constraints in its inability to immediately recruit trainee doctors despite acknowledging their importance. Plagued by chronic underfunding and staffing shortages, Kenya’s health sector frequently grapples with strikes, disrupting essential services.

The conclusion of the doctors’ strike comes as a relief, especially amid challenges posed by heavy rains and flooding, which have claimed numerous lives and displaced hundreds of thousands since March. Muthomi Njuki, the governor of Tharaka Nithi County, emphasized the urgency of restoring healthcare services, particularly in light of emerging cholera cases in affected regions.

While resolving the doctors’ strike marks progress, another group of healthcare workers, clinical officers, remains on strike, underscoring the broader challenges facing the Kenyan healthcare system.

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