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Doctors in private health facilities asked to boycott work in protest

Secretaqry General of the Kenya Medical practioners and dentist union Dr. Ouma Olugah (right is joined by Nairobi branch official Dr, Thuranira Kaugiria and a friend at the Kamiti prison on February 14th 2017.

The ailing health sector could be dealt another blow if doctors in private facilities heed a call to boycott work for 48 hours starting today.

Kenya Medical Association (KMA) urged all health professionals affiliated to it to withdraw services in protest to the jailing of doctors’ union officials by a Nairobi court on Monday for contempt of court.

Those jailed are Samuel Oroko, Ouma Oluga, Daisy Korir, Evelyne Chege, Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro. An appeal on the matter is expected to be heard today.

And in retaliation to their members being sent to jail for one month, KMA announced it had revoked Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and his Principal Secretary Nicholas Muraguri’s membership to the association for one year.

It accused the two of mishandling the doctor’s strike.

The decision was reached after an early morning meeting attended by 15 health professional bodies among them Kenya Dental Association, Kenya Pediatric Association, Surgical Society of Kenya, Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya and Kenya Physicians Association.

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KMA Chairperson Jackline Kitulu said the decision was taken due to the manner the two handled the over two month’s strike “which has disgraced the profession”.

In a statement, officials of the associations led by Dr Kitulu demanded that President Uhuru Kenyatta sacks the CS and PS who they blamed for the unresolved crisis.

“Effective today (yesterday) both CS Mailu and Muraguri’s membership to the KMA is revoked for a period of one year. This is in view of their crimes in the ongoing crisis and their crimes of omission and commission,” said Kitulu.

The association protects doctors against unfair accusations and advocates for their interests such as better remuneration and working conditions.

Kitulu said Mailu and Muraguri are no longer fit to serve in their capacities claiming that instead of solving the crisis, they have become stumbling blocks.

Kitulu, who was accompanied by KMA National Secretary Lukoye Atwoli, directed their members in health facilities and institutions to stop offering services for 48 hours starting midnight.

This directive is expected to affect at least 1,500 private and mission hospitals across the country which serves 45 per cent of Kenyans on normal days, according to the Association of Private Hospitals.

The association’s chair Abdi Mohamed confirmed he was aware of the directive and said no services should be expected from them.

“Those who will still be operating within the period will either not be members of the association or are those who are do not want to obey the directive,” said Abdi.

Also to be affected by the order are clinics run by doctors.

Dr Atwoli, the KMA National Secretary and dean of Moi University’s school, said no doctor will engage in negotiations until the jailed officials have been released.

He said the only members mandated to negotiate are those in jail. “We ask that the Court of Appeal sets aside the current judgment and further demand the Government takes all necessary steps to end the judicial circus to amicably resolve this crisis,” he said.

Kenya Medical Association in Central Rift also called for withdrawal services in private hospitals to protest the jailing of the officials.

Speaking to The Standard, Dr Fred Kalande asked relatives of patients in private hospitals to clear bills before services are paralysed on February 15 and 16.

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Joy Mugambi, who was among more than 100 members of KMA, said jailing of the officials was ill-advised.

“Sending doctors to jail will not solve the impasse because they speak on behalf of doctors. We shall, therefore, close all public hospitals and clinics in solidarity with them,” said Dr Mugambi.

Mugambi said the doctors are being victimised for fighting for better health care.

Dr Kalande asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to intervene in the matter.

The association’s executive member Carolyne Muiru dismissed sentiments by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) that there was no goodwill from doctors to end the strike.

Victor Achoka, chairman of Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya, called on different arms of government to work together and end the strike.

In the North rift over 200 members of KMPDU also announced they will paralyse services in private health facilities.

Dr Pius Musau claimed the move by the judge proved that the court was partisan and sided with the Government’s hard line position concerning the implementation of a Collective Bargaining Agreement.

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In Nyeri, the doctor’s union called on their colleagues in private practice to down their tools for 48 hours in solidarity with the jailed officials.

KMPDU Central Branch Secretary Goody Gor said the unionists have become heroes to all doctors.

 

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