AFRICA/KENYA - The Doctors Strike: Constructive Dialogue Needed

Friday, 11 December 2020 coronavirus   healthcare   bishops  

Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) - "The sufferings patients go through whenever there is a strike should remind us that saving life ought to be a priority for both government and the medical staff", say the Bishops of Kenya, in a statement sent to Agenzia Fides.
"We recall that strikes by medical doctors and nurses in Kenya have been ongoing for over 20 years. In the past few months, doctors and nurses have downed their tools to protest against poor support from the government as they step up in the frontline to fight the spread of Covid-19. As a result, patients die, illnesses accelerate. Instead of saving lives or alleviating patient suffering, more people are hurt", the statement continues.
The Kenya National Union of Nurses, KNUN specified the that the condition to end the strike is to compensate the families of the 26 nurses who died of Covid-19 by the State. KNUN General Secretary Seth Panyako says 23,000 nurses have taken union action and will only resume service when their demands are met. Among these are the provision of PEP equipment to protect health workers and the payment of arrears of wages and allowances related to the fight against the pandemic.
To overcome the crisis, the Bishops call for "constructive dialogue". "We see that medical doctors and nurses have not been listened to with an open mind", the message continues, which highlights how doctors criticize the unequal treatment between them and politicians: "Salaries and the accompanying packages for the law makers are handsome. But, the cry of the doctors, nurses and support staff, some of whom stand on the frontline as is the case with the fight against the coronavirus spread, is hardly listened to. This is the dilemma the government needs to address. It must be seen to be fair to all its civil servants".
"As we navigate the battered economy due the effects of Covid-19 in our country, we should support the medical doctors in all ways. They risk their lives for the sake of saving our lives. We must do all that is possible and within our means to provide them with the best working conditions. If we fail in this line, we put the lives of millions of Kenyans who cannot afford bills in private hospital at risk", the Bishops conclude. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 11/12/2020)