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National Assembly joins efforts to end doctors’ strike

As the team negotiating a possible end to the doctors’ strike take a break, efforts in Parliament to end the devastating downing of tools are set to continue, with three committees set to hold meetings with those involved.

In the Senate, the Health Committee is expected to meet governors this morning.

Governors play a critical role in ending the stalemate that has left patients in public hospitals suffering for 81 days, now, because they employ majority of the doctors given that health is a devolved function.

The committee chaired by Dr Wilfred Machage is set to meet the Council of Governors (CoG) team Wednesday, and the county bosses will be grilled over claims that they have ignored recruitment procedures.

The doctors had complained that the governors have been frustrating doctors from outside their counties by when hiring and approving their requests for further studies.

At the National Assembly, two committees will this morning join efforts to end the doctors’ strike.

The Health Committee and the Labour and Social Welfare Committees are today scheduled to hold marathon meetings with officials of the doctors’ unions, the former Permanent Secretary at the Health, governors’ representatives, the salaries commission as well as the Public Service Commission.

Perhaps the most notable meeting would be with Mark Bor, the man who was the Permanent Secretary at the Health ministry when the controversial Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was signed in 2013.

Mr Bor’s role has come under focus after the Senate Health Committee revealed that he had been demoted two days before he put pen to paper on the agreement with doctors on behalf of the government.

Officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, who submitted the petition to the National Assembly to deal with the strike, are scheduled to meet the two committees at County Hall starting 10 a.m.

KMPDU is yet to confirm whether it will be represented at the meeting. They are currently on a break from the negotiations going on mediated by the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Mr Bor is scheduled to meet the committees for an hour from 11 a.m. while the chief executive officer of the Council of Governors is expected to appear at noon.

Salaries and Remuneration Commission boss Sarah Serem and her Public Service Commission counterpart Prof Margaret Kobia are expected at 2pm.

To conclude the round of meetings, the Cabinet Secretaries for Health, East African Community, Labour and Social Welfare and the National Treasury will be expected at 3pm.

Lawmakers have challenged President Kenyatta to proactively deal with the matter instead of allowing senior officials at State House to make statements likely to compromise the progress made.

“He must step forward and crack the whip to end this stalemate. Majority of Kenyans have no medical cover and the faith based hospitals operate just like the private ones,” Nyamira Senator Kennedy Mong’are said.

Governors have been downplaying the magnitude of the strike saying the situation is not as serious as it is being portrayed, because some doctors are working besides the clinical officers and nurses.

KMPDU had raised concerns that frequent social media attacks on the doctors orchestrated by State House Director of Digital Communications, Dennis Itumbi, was hurting the talks.

Mr Mong’are said both parties in the negotiating table should approach the matter with an open mind as opposed to relying on instructions from their bosses.

“We have information the ministry officials are approaching the negotiating table with firm instructions from State House, on the direction the talks should take,” Mr Mong’are who has declared interest in the Presidency said.

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