KENYA: Bishops Appeal to Doctors to Resume Essential Duties, Offer to Mediate Stand Off

NAIROBI JANUARY 13, 2017(CISA)-The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops(KCCB) has appealed to striking doctors to resume essential medical duties to help save lives.

“We appeal to their conscience to be able to resume essential medical duties, even to a limited extent as the Union continues with the negotiation with the relevant Government organs,” said the bishops in a press statement dated January 10, 2017.

In the statement titled, “The Poor are dying,” the bishops noted that the on-going grand-standing and chest thumping by the Doctors’ Union on one hand and the National and County Governments on the other, enhances the hopelessness of the sad and worrisome situation being experienced in Kenya today.

Doctors in public hospitals in Kenya went on strike in December 5, 2016 over the Governments’ failure to honour a Collective Bargaining Agreement of 2013 that would have given them a 300 percent  increase in salary and improved their working conditions.

The doctors’ strike has led to loss of lives and suffering among patients who cannot afford private hospitals.

“We, the Catholic Bishops of Kenya, continue to express our deep concern over the on-going Doctors’ strike that continues to cause Kenyans unimaginable pain, misery and suffering, including immense loss of life,” the bishops said.

While thanking other healthcare workers in the private and public sector who have continued their services despite the call to down their tools, the bishops noted the contributions of non-state medical institutions that have gone out of their way to help.

Even as the bishops availed themselves for mediation they urged the County Governments to create an environment suitable for dialogue in order to bring an end to this stalemate.

“The on-going human suffering and loss of Life cannot continue as we pride ourselves in a working and stable Government,” the bishops said.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) recently brushed off the attempts by the national and county governments to force them back to work.

A Kenyan court handed down a one-month suspended jail term to union officials over the doctors’ strike.

The medics have so far rejected a 40 percent pay rise offer from the government, demanding the full implementation of the 2013 CBA.

The government had threatened to fire all the striking doctors if they do not return to work.

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