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Kenya: Doctors nationwide strike enters seventh day

A Kenyan doctor addresses other striking doctors as they march through Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2011.   -  
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Katharine Houreld/AP2011


Doctors at Kenya’s public hospitals have entered the seventh day of a nationwide strike, accusing the government of failing to implement a raft of promises from a collective bargaining agreement signed in 2017 after a 100-day strike that saw people dying from lack of care.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union said they went on strike to demand comprehensive medical cover for the doctors and because the government has yet to post 1,200 medical interns.

Leaders of the union say 4,000 doctors are taking part in the strike despite a labor court order asking the union to put the strike on hold to allow talks with the government.

Doctors union leaders say they would disregard the court order the same way the government had disregarded three court orders to increase basic pay for doctors and reinstate suspended doctors.

The impact of the strike is being felt across the country with many patients left unattended or being turned away from hospitals across the East African nation.

Josephine Njeri, a patient at Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), spent half a day in the hospital without being attended to.

"I have been here since 8 o'clock this morning. We have been told to wait for doctors because they are not in. We have just been in the queue since morning," she said.

Cabinet Secretary at the Ministry of Health Susan Nakhumicha visited KNH to assess the operations.

"As far as I'm concerned the referral hospitals are working pretty well and we are committed to ensuring that all facilities under the national hospitals are working," she told reporters.

In 2017, doctors at Kenya's public hospitals held a 100-day strike — the longest ever held in the country — to demand better wages and for the government to restore the country's dilapidated public-health facilities.

They also demanded continuous training of and hiring of doctors to address a severe shortage of health professionals.

At the time, public doctors, who train for six years in university, earned a basic salary of $400-$850 a month, similar to some police officers who train for just six months.

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