Source: The Standard
By Steve Mkawale
Doctors have threatened to paralyse services in health institutions on December 5, to push for a 300 per cent wage increase.
“All doctors in public health hospitals will stay away from their places of work,” said Dr Boniface Chitayi, secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU).
KMPDU officials who met members at City Hall, Nairobi, on Saturday for a special delegates conference, claimed the Government had ignored their petitions.
As a pre-condition to avert the strike, Chitayi said the Government must adopt a new scheme of service the union proposes.
“The pay for a doctor should go up by at least 300 per cent. And the basic pay will only cater for the daytime work hours of 8am to 5pm, five days a week,” said the union official.
The doctors’ threat for industrial action follows another by staff at the Kenyatta National Hospital who downed their tools demanding Sh227 million in unpaid commuter allowances dating back to July.
Interestingly, Medical Services Minister in whose docket the hospital falls, appeared to back the industrial action by the hospital employees, saying they had no option. While making the demands on Saturday the doctors recognised that their colleagues – nurses and clinical officers suffer similar fate.
“They also require an urgent review of their schemes of service to motivate them deliver care to Kenyans”, said Chitayi. Chitayi said they have issued the Government with a 14-day strike notice but called for urgent negotiations to avert a crisis in public health institutions.
“Doctors’ strike is a serious matter and that is why we have given the Government 14 days notice rather than the required seven days because we are open for dialogue,” he said.
Chitayi observed that the poor scheme of service in the country has seen mass exodus of healthcare workers to Namibia, Botswana and South Africa.
“These South African countries offer a far better scheme of services compared to ours and have continued to record impressive indices courtesy of Kenyans doctors and nurses,” he said.
Displaying copies of pay slips to demonstrate how doctors are poorly remunerated, Chitayi said the irony of the profession was that doctors offer services that they cannot themselves afford.
“Some of our colleagues have died in general wards
in public hospitals simply because the medical cover they get from Government cannot afford them treatment in private hospitals,” said the doctor.
The doctors are demanding an inpatient cover of Sh10million, and Sh10,000 to cover outpatient treatment, as well as risk and hardship allowances.