Nairobi doctors strike after NHIF cover allegedly withdrawn

Dr Malindi Chao alleged that some of her colleagues have been detained in hospitals unable to clear huge medical bills

In Summary

• Health workers in Nairobi say they have been working without a medical cover for eight months since July 2022.

• KMPDU Nairobi chairman Dr. Maero Deogracious says they will not stop picketing until their issues are addressed.

Health workers hold peaceful demonstrations outside City Hall on February 13, 2023.
Health workers hold peaceful demonstrations outside City Hall on February 13, 2023.

Doctors working in Nairobi have demanded the immediate renewal of their National Health Insurance Fund comprehensive cover by the county government.

On Monday, the medics abandoned work and marched to Governor Johnson Sakaja’s office at City Hall seeking his audience. 

The protest brought streets around City Hall to a standstill between 10am and 1.30pm as the medics encircled Sakaja’s office.

The Nairobi health workers claim they have been working for eight months  since July 2022 without comprehensive medical insurance cover.

Speaking during the protest, Dr Malindi Chao, the secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioner Pharmacist and Dentist Union Nairobi branch, raised a question to the county government on the  issue.

He wondered where the county government is taking the Sh1,700 insurance cover deductions.

“All health workers in Nairobi don’t have any insurance cover. We are being exposed together with our families. We have taken the risks without any insurance cover. By the time we walk here (picketing), it is not out of own wish,” Chao said.

The medics called for an investigation into an alleged attempt by the county executive to transfer the comprehensive medical insurance for their members from NHIF to a private insurer without their involvement.

“We don’t want any other insurance cover. We want NHIF comprehensive insurance cover. Let us stick to the devil we know. What NHIF wants is timely payment of the statutory and payment of every premium. If that’s done, it won’t interfere with our services,” the secretary general said.

With no signs of stopping the picketing, the union said the deed of transfer signed on February 25, 2020 of functions from Nairobi county government to the national government was not terminated. This, they said, has hampered and stressed delivery of county health services, including the payment of the comprehensive insurance cover by the government.

However, Dr Maore Deogracious, the Nairobi branch KMPDU chairman said he supports picketing of his doctors until Governor Sakaja and President William Ruto addresses the issue.

"Doctors are not working. You cannot go to work without a cover. But because we are good people, we are telling Nairobians that picketing is only during the day. At night when you come to the hospital, you will find a doctor. But until we get a medical cover there is no doctor working during the day," he said.

County health officials did not address the doctors, who took photos of themselves and quietly left City Hall.

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