KENYA—Healthcare professionals across Kenya have gone on strike, expressing their dissatisfaction with unmet demands and prolonged negotiations following last week’s announcement.

The Clinical Officers’ Union (KUCO) acknowledged the start of the strike, noting that there has been no progress in negotiations so far.

Doctors, for their part, have given the government until Sunday midnight to address all outstanding matters of disagreement, failing which they will go on a statewide strike.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union has also emphasized the importance of addressing important issues such as intern posting, promotions, medical coverage, postgraduate fee payment, study leaves, and pension.

This action comes in the aftermath of rising tensions in the healthcare industry, as seen by recent protests and a disturbing event involving the shooting of a union leader.

In support, Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General Seth Panyako said that nurses across the country would join the upcoming doctor’s strike if those responsible for the shooting of KMPDU Secretary General Davji Atellah were not arrested.

On February 29, Atellah of KPMDU was shot while leading a peaceful protest against the delayed posting of 1,215 medical interns, some of whom had been waiting for six months or a year.

This strike is the result of several unsolved issues for healthcare workers, including a delay in the implementation of Universal Health Coverage, contract harmonization, and the delay in posting interns.

Furthermore, the failure to sign recognition agreements with several unions has exacerbated the problem.

These grievances have sparked a collective need for rapid action, highlighting the crucial need for systemic transformation in Kenya’s healthcare infrastructure.

Speaking to NTV on Saturday, Health CS Susan Nakhumicha stated that the interns will cost Sh4.9 billion. She went on to state that she would only be able to post the interns if the Treasury released the necessary money.

Furthermore, in response to the ongoing strike, the Ministry of Health (MoH) has organized meetings with officials from health workers’ unions in an effort to avoid the strike and resolve the underlying concerns.

However, healthcare workers are adamant that the current and planned protests will continue, as their leaders intend to deliver their demands to top state institutions such as Parliament and the Public Service Commission (PSC).

This action marks a watershed point in the ongoing fight for fair treatment and better circumstances in the healthcare sector.

The walkout has far-reaching consequences for Kenya’s healthcare sector, potentially halting services and affecting patient care statewide.

The grievances highlighted by the healthcare workers reflect systemic issues that require immediate attention and resolution.

With strikes being initiated by different unions, it remains to be seen how the government and healthcare workers will overcome these obstacles to find a long-term solution that meets the requirements of both the healthcare professionals and the communities they serve.

The ongoing strike in Kenya’s healthcare sector is a sharp reminder of the necessity of conversation, negotiation, and systemic reform in resolving healthcare workers’ issues, the need to establish proper dispute resolution mechanisms, and prioritizing healthcare workers’ welfare and working conditions.

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