The ping-pong between doctors and the government is set to continue after the medical practitioners issued a fresh strike notice over poor pay and dilapidated health facilities.
With the government yet to fully implement the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), the recent withdrawal of Covid-19 allowances seems to have opened old wounds.
In the CBA, the lowest-paid doctor (intern) was to earn Sh212,989, and the highest-paid (consultant) Sh814,000. It also sought to provide them with benefits such as call allowances ranging between Sh56,000 and Sh70,000.
Doctors would work 40 hours a week and be paid for overtime. This hasn’t been done.
“Because of persistent failure and lackluster approach to address the HRH (Human Resources for Health) challenges endemic in the health sector and worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic, KMPDU has resolved to consult and mobilize its members for industrial action if the challenges remain unresolved,” Chibanzi Mwachonda, acting Secretary-General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU), said in Nairobi on Monday.
Some counties, including Homa Bay, Kisumu, and Embu, have not paid healthcare workers for the last three months. As they are frontline workers fighting the pandemic, the delayed pay has lowered morale.
Only 20 counties have so far provided NHIF cover for medics. Six health workers have died from COVID-19-related complications, while over 1,000 have contracted the virus.
To plug staffing holes in health facilities, Dr. Mwachonda urged the government to expedite the formation of a health service commission to streamline the sector.
“The commission will be the ultimate solution to the problems facing the sector. It will improve services and motivate staff. There will be no universal health coverage with no human resources. You can have all the equipment and machinery in the world but without qualified workers, it won’t work,” said Dr. Mwachonda.
He claimed the focus on Covid-19 was skewed towards procurement, which led to the pilferage of resources at the expense of health staff.
“Employment of doctors on a contractual basis is unfair. There’s no equal pay for equal work. The commission will be key in sorting out staff shortage in some regions and provide employment to unemployed doctors,” he added.