Medical crisis looms in Nairobi as doctors strike begins


Medical crisis looms in Nairobi as doctors strike begins
FILE PHOTO | Doctors on strike in 2017. REUTERS

The doctors strike is set to begin at midnight after talks between the Nairobi Metropolitan Service and union officials collapsed.

Dr. Thuranira Kaugiria, an official from the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU), made the announcement on Thursday.

“They need to address our grievances and stop making empty promises. They also need to stop threatening me. They are following me everywhere I go. I can even see them downstairs. But I will not stop demanding for doctors to get adequate PPEs, salaries paid on time, medical cover and designated isolation centres,” Dr. Kaugiria told Citizen Digital on phone on Thursday evening.

NMS had held talks with the union officials earlier in the afternoon seeking to avert the planned doctors strike.

However, the two parties failed to reach an agreement following proposals to have concerns raised addressed after a month.

“They are promising heaven but we live on earth!” said Dr. Kaugiria who serves as the Secretary of the KMPDU Nairobi Chapter.

According to KMPDU, doctors working in Nairobi County have had no medical cover since July 1, 2020.

A statement issued on August 14 titled The Sorry State of Healthcare in Nairobi decried the fact that several doctors admitted to hospital over COVID-19 were forced to pay their own bills.

Some are said to have even had to solicit funds from fellow doctors: this despite the Collective Bargaining Agreement that provides for all doctors to have a comprehensive medical cover.

In addition, the union said doctors employed after 2014 had been denied their right to the civil servants NHIF Cover.

Four specialist doctors at Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital are also reported to have been working without pay for over 26 months.

“June salaries were paid on July 20th and still as of today July salaries have not been paid. Section 18 (2) of the employment & Labour relations act 2007, clearly stipulates that employee’s salary must be paid not later than 5th of the subsequent month,” Dr. Kaugiria said.

He also noted that Nairobi County does not have an isolation facility dedicated for medics with 15 doctors and other health care workers having to be nursed at home after contracting COVID-19.

Poor quality of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) delivered to hospitals in Nairobi has also forced health care workers to improvise for themselves.

“Due to this we have several health care workers contracting COVID-19,” the union said.

On August 14, KMPDU urged the county government to address their concern failure to which they would down their tools within seven days.

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