KENYA—Doctors in Kenya are now on their eighth day of a full-fledged strike, which began last Wednesday when the notice they issued a week earlier expired.

So far, this strike has shut down two main referral hospitals: Kenyatta Hospital and Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital, with the union accusing the management of implementing discriminatory employment practices.

According to union officials who spoke to the local media outlet, Citizen Television, more doctors are poised to withdraw their services from Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital and join others in a huge demonstration planned for the capital on Friday, March 22.

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) secretary general Dr. Davji Atellah emphasized that the withdrawal of services is expected to impair emergency and other services as the national doctors’ strike intensifies.

This strike comes amid the backdrop of Monday’s meeting, which failed to address the issue surrounding the implementation of the doctors’ CBA, signed in 2017, as well as the posting of interns who have been out of school for more than a year.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and the government have conducted two talks on the subject, but none has produced the expected outcomes.

On her part, CS Nakhumicha noted that Monday’s meeting had achieved a deal with KMPDU and that the National Treasury had given the green light to deploy interns beginning April 1.

She also stated that her ministry will resume negotiations this week and that all pending dues under the 2017 CBA will be cleared in accordance with the court’s orders.

However, KMPDU leaders downplayed the possibility of a successful meeting, stating that the walkout is still ongoing. They also objected to the interns’ compensation.

In his separate  media address, Dr. Atellah stated unequivocally that the strike would not end until these issues were resolved, despite the Ministry of Health’s willingness to begin posting interns in April.

He went on to say that  the Ministry’s revised salary with guidelines of the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC), is significantly lower than what they proposed in their CBA.

This, combined with an ongoing case between doctors and Kenyatta National Hospital before Justice Byram Ongaya of the Employment and Labour Relations Court, has prompted the head of the public service, Felix Koskei, to convene a must-attend meeting at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre on Thursday starting 4.45 PM.

Speaking after the announcement by Mr. Koskei, the state counsel Oscar Eredi, who has been representing Kenyatta National Hospital in a case that could have potentially halted the doctors’ strike, expressed his optimism regarding the meeting convened to resolve this impending health crisis in the presence of the reconciliation committee.

This meeting with the reconciliation committee is set to involve cabinet secretaries for Health, Labour, and the National Treasury together with the Public Service Commission, Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the doctors Union KMPDU, all county governments, and national referral hospitals.

He went on to say that both parties are negotiating and agreeing on minimum essential services to be maintained during the industrial strike to ensure that patients do not suffer.

Eredi believes that this meeting, promised by Koskei, holds the potential to address all perennial disputes in the health sector with the aim of finding a lasting solution.

According to the state counsel, the government honored the doctors’ previous CBA and is currently negotiating the second CBA for 2021-2025.

Lawyer Edgar Washika, who represented the doctors’ organization, verified that the doctors were prepared to attend the conference called by the Head of Public Service.

Both the doctors and Kenyatta National Hospital are due to provide a report on the progress of the talks to Justice Ongaya when the case is mentioned on April 3.

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