WILL WORSEN SITUATION

Firing striking health workers is no solution — doctors

A 2018 health service report shows a rampant shortage of staff in public facilities.

In Summary

• Acting KMPDU secretary-general Chibanzi Mwachonda said it is illegal to employ brinkmanship in dealing with the ongoing strike.

• The governors have maintained they will not reinstate sacked health workers even through a return-to-work formula.

Striking national government healthcare workers demonstrate at Uhuru Park.
ON STRIKE: Striking national government healthcare workers demonstrate at Uhuru Park.
Image: MAGDALINE SAYA

Doctors have asked governors to avoid sackings or firing threats and embrace dialogue when dealing with striking health workers.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union said the country is already suffering from an acute shortage of personnel and firing more will only worsen the situation. 

Acting KMPDU secretary-general Chibanzi Mwachonda said it is illegal to employ brinkmanship in dealing with the ongoing strike.

"The strikes in the health sector are disputes that should be handled through the established International Labour Organization conventions on dispute resolutions," Mwachonda said.

"The welfare, safety, health, terms and conditions of work of doctors including remuneration are paramount in the delivery of healthcare services to the common citizen."

 Mwachonda called on the Council of Governors to embrace the compensation package on group life and comprehensive medical insurance under NHIF for compensation of families of healthcare workers who die while treating Covid-19 patients. 

"KMPDU welcomes the call for social dialogue and reiterates that this is the spirit upon which the nationwide strike was called off on December 24. Intimidation, threats and harassment of our members and other health sector workers will plunge the country into further crisis amidst the Covid-19 pandemic."

Nurses and clinical officers in 34 counties went on strike on December 7. They demand higher allowances, adequate personal protective equipment, comprehensive medical insurance cover and an end to salary delays.

But the governors say they are some of the best paid civil servants in the counties and, perhaps, do not deserve any more pay. Any pay rise is untenable and will distort counties payroll.

Some counties such as Kisumu and Mombasa have fired striking healthcare workers or scrapped them from the payroll.

Last week, the nurses and the Ministry of Health signed a return-to-work formula, which was rejected by governors.

Kenya National Union of Nurses' secretary-general Seth Panyako said the RTWF gives all nurses a 500 per cent increase in nursing allowance to Sh15,000.

The Kenya Health Service Delivery Indicator Survey 2018 Report shows a rampant shortage of staff in public facilities.

The survey, conducted by the World Bank and Kenyan government also noted rampant absenteeism of 60.7 per cent by doctors followed by nurses (54.5 per cent) and clinical officers (49.5 per cent).

The governors have maintained they will not reinstate sacked health workers even through a return-to-work formula.

They said several courts have also issued orders to suspend the strike, and as is, the strike is not protected in law.

 

(edited by o. owino)