State to meet medics’ unions to end strikes
We regret that Kenyans suffered. We are working to resolve the matter – Health PS
State officials have set a meeting next week with health workers’ unions countrywide to find a way to end strikes.
Health PS Nicholas Muraguri yesterday said they will meet in Nairobi next Thursday and Friday. The forum will involve health workers’ unions and officials from the Health and Devolution ministries, the Council of Governors, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and the Intergovernmental Relations Technical Committee.
The meeting was agreed at State House last week after the Kenya National Union of Nurses threatened a nationwide strike in November.
More than 2,000 medics, including at least 450 doctors countrywide, are on strike. They are demanding salary hikes and promotions, and protesting against pay delays.
On Wednesday, Nairobi county promised to pay by today all 253 striking doctors who have not been paid for six months. Health workers have also gone on strike in Migori, Kakamega, Nakuru and Nyeri counties.
Muraguri said he is concerned by the disruption of health services. “We regret the suffering that Kenyans have experienced... We are working round the clock to solve the matter,” he said.
Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, who is also the chairman of the CoG Health Committee, blames the strikes on the state. He says it had not promoted thousands of medics for the last 10 years before counties took over.
“They now want us to promote all of them and increase their salaries. Of course it is their right, but with the current budget allocation, we don’t have enough money,” he said recently.
Muraguri said the ministry would continue offering policy guidance to county governments to avert strikes.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union secretary general Ouma Oluga welcomed next week’s forum. “We hope our concerns will be resolved because we need to address these issues once and for all. We are ready to work,” he said.
But he said the slow pace of resolving grievances encourages frequent strikes.