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Kenyan doctors celebrating their victory after a 100-day long strike

By Chrispinus Omar (Xinhua) -- Kenyan doctors are celebrating their victory after a 100-day long strike, which paralyzed public health sector, saying despite efforts to divide the striking doctors, the massive public support for the strike led to major gains in favour of the country’s public healthcare system.

"We did not cover the entire distance we set out to cover, but we are now firmly on the journey to a better public health sector.

"Better healthcare for all Kenyans," the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) said on Sunday in a thank you note to Kenyans.

The Kenyan doctors embarked on a strike on Dec. 5 2016 to press the government to honor an agreement reached in 2013 for the payment of 70 to 200 percent pay increase.

They also sought the improvement of medical facilities and equipment at all state-owned hospitals.

The government initially declined to recognize the agreement, saying it was signed by officials whose tenure in government had expired.

Later, the government said the laws were changed and public healthcare responsibilities were transferred to 47 county governments managed by elected governors.

The doctors’ strike affected operations of nearly 6,000 state hospitals.

The doctors protested the poor medical conditions patients were being subjected to at the state hospitals.

They also decried the lack of proper medical equipment and long hours that the patients had to wait to access treatment.

Kenyan health ministry officials initially resisted the implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), a document which spells out the terms of employment for professionals who have joined a labor union, and later agreed to renegotiate the CBA, to be signed by the 47 governors.

In Nairobi, the KMPPDU officials, Ouma Oluga, Secretary-General and Samuel Oroko, Chairman, signed a return to work agreement with the Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, on March 14, to end the doctors’ strike after accepting increases in allowances and the conclusion of a new CBA.

Kenyan government officials have reportedly been pressing on with a plan to bring in expatriate doctors from Tanzania to fill a shortage of skilled doctors, according to a statement issued by the Tanzanian government.

The Kenyan government said it would hire 500 expatriate Tanzanian doctors.

The Tanzanian government agreed to provide the 500 doctors to help deal with a shortage of doctors at public hospitals.

State House Spokesperson Manoah Esipisu said on Sunday the decision to hire the doctors was approved by the government upon the request by the Council of Governors to reduce the patient-to-doctors ratio in Kenya’s 47 counties, which decry the few doctors available.

Meanwhile, the KMPPDU said it has signed a return-to-work agreement with the Kenya’s largest referral hospital, after 104 days, to end the strike.

The hospital had earlier fired striking doctors.




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