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Central Kenya doctors issue new strike threat

More than 400 doctors in central Kenya will boycott work on Thursday over delayed salaries.

They are also complaining of deplorable state of hospitals and poor staffing.

The doctors also accused the government of failing to implement the return-to-work formula that ended their strike last month.

This is even as the doctors’ union has concluded an audit on which counties have paid the doctors who did not work in the 100-day strike.

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union secretary-general Ouma Oluga told Nation that doctors must be paid.

LACK GOODWILL

“Some counties have given doctors pay slips reflecting salaries for three months but their accounts only reflect one month,” Dr Oluga said by phone.

According to the Central region union secretary Gor Goody, the government and the county officials lack goodwill.

“We are giving them a two-day window to look into our salaries because we can no longer afford basic needs,” she said. “Some doctors are currently having issues with their landlords over rent issues because we have not been paid since January. No good reason has been advanced over the delay.”

The doctors are from Nyeri, Nyandarua, Murang’a and Kiambu counties.

The doctors want a three-month salary that they did not receive while on the nationwide strike.

STITCHING ROOMS

Dr Goody complained that in stitching rooms, there are not enough lights, some computers have failed and taps are running dry, and the doctors use water from buckets.

The Council of Governors has made it clear that doctors will not be paid for work not done.

Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya said those who were on duty throughout the strike would get allowances from January 1.

He added that the return-to-work pact did not include payment of salaries to doctors who did not work.

He said the doctors’ accumulated salaries of about Sh3.2 billion was used for “extra-ordinary measures during the strike”.

This included taking the sick in the counties to “private hospitals for specialised treatment”.

TEMPORARILY STOPPED
The Labour court on Friday temporarily stopped the government from hiring foreign doctors.

On March 20, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu was optimistic that the foreign doctors would come into the country in the “first week of April” even as reports from Tanzania indicated nearly 400 doctors had applied and expressed interest in working in Kenya.

Justice Nelson Abuodha issued the order after five Kenyan doctors sued to stop the State from hiring 500 doctors from Tanzania.

They reasoned there were nearly 1400 trained medics in the country who are unemployed and asked that the court compels the government to absorb the medical practitioners who are “currently jobless but are trained and qualified.” The case will be heard on April 21.

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