Health crisis worsens as doctors join clinical officers, nurses in strike

Health crisis worsens as doctors join clinical officers, nurses in strike

Kenyans seeking medical services in public hospitals are set to undergo untold suffering as doctors across the country on Monday downed their tools after the government failed to heed their demands which include enhanced salaries.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) called on its members to withdraw their services, joining clinical officers and nurses who are on strike after the government failed to meet their demands.

A meeting of the Ministries of Health and Labour, the Council of Governors and the medics scheduled for Sunday aborted reportedly after the government officials boycotted the meeting.

Both sides are now spoiling for a fight with the Health Ministry telling counties to crack the whip on the striking medics who are bullish calling the threat a bluff

Agonized by losing their colleagues in the COVID-19 battlefield, doctors are pushing for a comprehensive medical cover by the National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) for all doctors, employment of at least 2,000 medical officers, pharmacists and dentists to bolster the strained numbers of the medics. They are also demanding provision of adequate and standard PPEs in all healthcare facilities across the country and conversion of all contractual employment to permanent and pensionable.

The doctors are also seeking for enhancement of risk allowance, this after the withdrawal of the COVID-19 allowance that was payable for only three months at Ksh.30,000 per month. They want the risk allowance capped at Ksh.20,000 to be scaled up to reflective of the pandemic situation in the country.

Equally the doctors are calling for the reinstatement of their call allowance that ranged between Ksh.72,000-Ksh.80,000. Reportedly, the Health Ministry Principal Secretary has written severally to the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) to effect this allowance with no success.

As doctors push for better welfare, a working document from the ministry of health indicates 3,795 intern medics have been employed on a one-year contract while 570 specialists were employed to beef up the numbers in the fight against COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health indicates that despite their push for enhanced allowances, doctors are paid more compared to their peer professionals within government. For instance at entry level, a doctor, dentist and pharmacists earn a basic salary ranging between Ksh.49,000 – Ksh.87,000 but take home 241,000 upon computation of their allowances. Nursing officers would earn a basic salary of between Ksh.38,000 – Ksh.51,170 but take home Ksh.118,120 with allowances.

On the flip side, HR managers, development officers, accountants and administration officers at their level earn between Ksh.31,270 – Ksh.41, 260 at entry level but with allowances computed, they may end up with Ksh.45,270. Engineers are paid between Ksh.38,270 – Ksh.51,170 as basic salary on entry level but may end up with Ksh.64,270 with allowances.

For job group S, while Finance, HR managers, development officers, accountants and administration officers earn a gross pay of Ksh.213,870 doctors, dentist and pharmacists in these category can earn up to Ksh.383,870 but these numbers have been disputed by the medics union leaders.