- The Tuesday morning meeting between the doctors’ union and Health CS Susan Wafula saw the ministry to act on the issues raised in the next two weeks
- The CS has now committed to ensure that all the 895 interns posted in January are paid their four months dues by May 22
Doctors have shelved their plan to go on strike after reaching a temporary agreement with the Ministry of Health on Tuesday.
The Tuesday morning meeting between the doctors’ union and Health CS Susan Wafula saw the ministry commit to act on the issues raised in the next two weeks.
The doctors under the umbrella of the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union had threatened to withdraw their services from hospitals across the country, decrying delayed posting of interns and payment of those already posted by the ministry.
The CS has now committed to ensure that all the 895 interns posted in January are paid their four months dues by May 22, while the 360 interns yet to be posted will be posted in the next two weeks.
The ministry is supposed to post interns on internship which is a legal provision for them and a prerequisite for them so that they can be able to be licensed to practice.
The KMPDU secretary general Davji Atellah said failure by the ministry to keep their side of the bargain will see the union rally its members to withdraw their services countrywide.
“We want to say that in our discussion today even if we are going to continue discussing this issue of suspending the strike of the interns, these dates are committed and these dates mean an important thing for all healthcare workers,” he said.
"Failure to meet these demands and other issues that have been raised by the union will culminate into a nationwide strike,” he added.
The union has raised concern that the delay to pay the interns had made them struggle to make ends meet and can barely meet their basic needs.
This, Atellah said, has led to demotivation within the workforce which is likely to compromise on the quality of healthcare in public health facilities.
The union has also demanded that the ministry puts in place measures to ensure annual recruitment of doctors to meet the World Health Organisation recommendation of patient to doctor ratio.
Currently, Kenya has a patient to doctor ratio of 1:17,000 against the WHO requirement of 1:1,000. The union now says despite the shortage of doctors, there lies more than 4,000 trained doctors who are yet to be absorbed.
They now want the 4,000 doctors who remain unemployed to help curb the challenge of understaffing in health facilities in the country.
According to the union, it takes at least seven years to train a medical doctor, at a cost of between Sh4 million and Sh5 million.
“It is sad that a nation is spending so much on training of these professionals and fails to utilise them to save the lives of Kenyans who continue to die from treatable illnesses,” Atellah said.
This comes barely a week after the ministry committed to begin posting clinical interns in two weeks.
This puts an end to the long wait and a prolonged tussle between the union and the ministry over a delay in posting the more than 1,840 interns.
The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers SG in a communiqué to the students said a series of meetings with the PS health standards Josephine Mburu has seen the ministry promise to post the interns in the next two weeks.
The latest meeting between the union and the PS took place on Friday.
“This is great news for our union and for our interns who have been eagerly waiting for this opportunity, and it will end the long waiting period,” Gibore said.
The clinicians include degree and diploma holders.
The union has in the recent past been following up on the matter, including petitioning Parliament and holding meetings with the two health PSs.
The 1,848 clinical interns were due to be posted in December but the union says despite there being a budget for the same, the fate of the interns had remained unclear.