Kenya : ICJ calls for dialogue to kenyan’s suffering amidst doctor’s strike

The International Commission of Jurists has raised concerns over the ongoing doctors’ strike and called for parties to embrace dialogue.

The doctors have been on strike since March 14 demanding for full implementation of their Collective Bargaining Agreement signed in 2017.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacist and Dentists Union (KMPDU) called for the strike following lack of consensus with the government on issues affecting healthcare workers.

Their demands include posting of medical interns, comprehensive medical cover, postgraduate training and employment of doctors.

In a statement, ICJ chairperson Protas Saende said the ongoing doctors’ strike is causing suffering to Kenyans who rely on public health facilities.

He said the nationwide strike has disrupted health service delivery in public hospitals countrywide leaving patients who cannot afford healthcare facilities stranded.

« The doctor’s strike comes at a time when the government is transitioning from the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) to the Social Health Insurance Fund established in 2023, » he said.

He said doctors and healthcare workers are essential contributors to society, offering vital care and assistance during illness and distress.

« Their expertise is evident in their extensive and rigorous training, often spanning more than ten years, with significant financial investments required for their education. »

Saende urged the Salaries and Remunerations Commission (SRC), National and County governments, and KMPDU to embrace dialogue and resolve the issues affecting healthcare workers.

The chairperson called on parties to approach the negotiations with clean hands and good faith for the good of all Kenyans and the welfare of healthcare workers.

« We urge the SRC, the National Government, and the County Governments to acknowledge and ensure that healthcare workers, including medical interns, receive fair and competitive compensation that recognises their training, expertise and nature of work, » he said.

According to him, adequate pay will help curb the brain drain witnessed in the country despite the significant investment in training doctors, nurses, clinical officers and other healthcare workers.

« Going forward, and in line with the rule of law, we urge all parties, including the state actors in the National and County governments, to honour all agreements resulting from all concluded negotiations and all court orders resulting from adjudication processes. »

The Commission also called on the National Treasury, NHIF, and the Ministry of Health to ensure the immediate release of funds owed to public and private health facilities by NHIF.

ICJ further said that beyond the academic challenges, doctors’ jobs demand long hours, often at unconventional times, and an unwavering commitment to patient well-being, including high-pressure decision-making scenarios where split-second judgments are critical.

According to Saende, the Constitution guarantees every person the right to the highest attainable standard of health.

« It is a fundamental duty of the State and every State organ to observe, respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights and fundamental freedoms in the Bill of Rights, including the right to health, » Saende said.

Despite this, they said, several factors still inhibit the attainment of the right to health for most Kenyans, including policy and legal obstacles, health system-related obstacles, health financing bottlenecks and poor management of human resources for health.

« Kenya continues to grapple with challenges in the health sector, including issues of poor health staff management characterised by failure to honour CBAs resulting in frequent strikes, » the ICJ chair said.

He added that other factors that inhibit health service provision include inadequate health financing to ensure appropriate and sustainable funding for universal health coverage (UHC) and the lack of a comprehensive social health insurance scheme to protect and cushion vulnerable households from the risks of catastrophic health expenditures.


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