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Striking doctors fear government might sack them

Striking doctors fear the government might sack them to force them to resume work.

The chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners’, Pharmacists’ and Dentists’ Union, Dr Samuel Oroko, on Thursday said they “were aware the government would send them “dismissal letters” on the 20th day of the strike on Friday.

He said the strike was designed to demand better pay and working conditions and also improve health care services in the country. But it was now being used to hunt the doctors.

Dr Oroko said he was ready to go to jail if that would give doctors an agreement and a better health care system.

He spoke on Thursday in Nairobi after doctors from the private hospitals joined them in solidarity of the striking doctors. Doctors in training (residents) at the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi withheld their services for 24 hours in support of their striking colleagues in public service.

“For those who live in homes owned by government or institutions you might be evicted, like they did in 1994, but when they do, don’t feel threatened, you will not die. Also, they may not pay your December salaries and will keep us in courts of law,” Dr Oroko cautioned his peers.

The union secretary general Ouma Oluga said there were medical interns who were being evicted in Tenwek.

SERVING PATIENTS

Meanwhile Dr Abdi Mohamed, who chairs the Kenya Association of Private Hospitals, maintained that most private hospitals were serving patients.

In Mombasa county doctors from private hospitals continued to work saying they have dedicated their time to save lives.

Mr Henry Muchiri a senior official at Pandya Memorial Hospital, said: “For us saving lives is more important. Our doctors are not in the union so they cannot join a strike which they are not part of.”

In Kisumu, some part time doctors working at private hospitals joined the strike.

However, permanent health staff at the Aga Khan, Avenue and Oasis hospitals were working normally.

Mrs Vicky Okoth, the Avenue hospital administrator said the locum doctors who are usually called upon when the work load is high were no longer reporting.

Mr Sam Oula, the medical director at Aga Khan Hospital said that it was fully operational.

“There is a contract between the hospital and the doctors that cannot be breached. We cannot shut down since we have a responsibility towards the sick,” said Mr Oula.

Report by Eunice Kilonzo, Winnie Atieno, Elizabeth Merab, Eunice Omollo and Anita Chepkoech.

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