Stop doctors’ strike, fertiliser scam circus

Thursday, April 11th, 2024 06:00 | By
Doctors demonstrating on Nakuru streets on March 25 to protest against the government’s failure to listen to their demands. PHOTO/Print

For the past month, Kenyans have been treated by the government to bizarre theatrics over the healthcare workers’ strike and the fake fertiliser scam.

The circuses began on March 15 when 7,000 Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) members downed tools demanding payment of salary arrears and hiring of trainee doctors.

The walkout, which has been compounded by a ‘solidarity strike’ by Clinical Officers and laboratory technicians, has left patients struggling to access care in expensive private hospitals.

After meeting doctors under the chairmanship of Head of Civil Service and Chief of Staff Felix Koskei with a purported aim of finding a solution, the government has exposed its bad faith by resorting to a blame game.

This is after the doctors turned down the government’s offer to hire interns, at Sh70,000 monthly stipend, and release of Sh2.4 billion as salary arrears.

Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha claimed the strike was sponsored by her enemies to sabotage efforts to reform the health sector. She also blamed people linked to corruption at the Kenya Medical Supply Agency and the National Health Insurance Fund for the woes in her docket.

Governors demanded a review of the 2017 doctors collective bargaining agreement (CBA) containing components which, they claimed, were difficult to implement and unreasonable.

President William Ruto this week seemed to have put the final nail in the coffin with a declaration that the government has no money to pay doctors.

The government’s reaction to the fertiliser scam has equally been perplexing with no clear solution in sight. While farmers have provided evidence of fake fertiliser in circulation, Kenyans have been inundated with diverse and false accounts from government officials.

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi has denied knowledge of counterfeit fertiliser, contradicting the President’s stern warning against suppliers of the fraudulent supplements.

This discord was exacerbated when Linturi’s Principal Secretary Paul Ronoh temporarily halted the distribution of fertiliser.

Ruto then issued a warning to perpetrators, vowing to apprehend and prosecute those involved in the illicit trade.

Clearly, the manner in which the government has handled the doctors’ strike and the fertiliser scam raise more questions than answers.

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