‘Don’t insult us, we are not contracting COVID-19 in bars,’ doctors insist

‘Don’t insult us, we are not contracting COVID-19 in bars,’ doctors insist

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has come out to strongly condemn claims that doctors are contracting COVID-19 outside health facilities.

In a message directed to Health CS Mutahi Kagwe, KMPDU Secretary General Chibanzi Mwachonda said it was an insult to insinuate that medical officers are getting infected with the virus in social places such as bars.

“Let me put this clear and to the Health Cabinet Secretary… this narrative that doctors are getting COVID-19 out of hospital must stop. Doctors spend up to 12 and 19 hours in hospitals serving Kenyans. So you cannot come and insult us and tell us that doctors are getting COVID-19 in bars. We will not take it lightly,” said the KMPDU Secretary General.

— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) November 24, 2020

Dr. Mwachonda insisted that the government is not doing enough to protect healthcare workers despite the risk they are facing in the frontline of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

The union maintains that there is an acute shortage of doctors in the country and wants each of the 47 counties to employ at least 50 doctors before December 6, 2020 when the 21-day strike notice they issued lapses. This, the union says is a non-negotiable demand.

According to KMPDU, doctors who were recently employed to step up efforts to fight the pandemic in isolation and treatment centres are being redeployed to other hospital departments with no compensation due the shortage of healthcare workers.

“The Ministry of Health employed 188 doctors in August, they’re yet to be paid until now. They were employed on 6-month contract; they do not have a medical cover or any form of compensation and they were deployed to work in the isolation and treatment centres. The county government’s are playing with this issue.

— Citizen TV Kenya (@citizentvkenya) November 24, 2020

“The same doctors who were supposed to be working in isolation and  treatment centres have now been deployed work in other departments in the hospitals to cover shortages. So there is an acute shortage of doctors in this country. Our demand is that each county must employ at least 50 doctors to cover for COVID-19 and other services. If this is not addressed equally we shall be on strike come the 6th of December,” said Dr. Mwachonda.

The doctors also want the personal protective equipment (PPEs) held at the KEMSA warehouses released for use by the healthcare workers.

“Those PPEs at KEMSA must be availed for the doctors and other healthcare workers. Whatever mechanism that will be used, they must be availed. We will not allow our members to die on the line of duty,” insisted the KMPDU boss.

At least 12 doctors have so far succumbed to the virus since the pandemic struck the country.

“These deaths have been very painful. The lack of oxygen is real in the country. We cannot be talking about preparedness for 8 months and nothing is being done on the ground. All we are seeing is PR,” said Mwachonda.

KMPDU has further demanded that all doctors who were fired by the Kirinyaga and Laikipia County Governments be reinstated.

The country is staring at a possible healthcare crisis next month considering nurses and clinical officers have since issued separate strike notices that could take effect should their demands which include allowances not be met.