Date: 13 May 2017 12:56
The cabinet secretaries for Health and the Treasury should urgently step in to avert another strike by doctors in the protracted dispute over pay that has rocked the sector.
The doctors’ union says that a return-to-work agreement inked on March 14 has not been implemented.
According to the union’s leadership, numerous counties have not paid their workers for months.
Seven of these – Marsabit, Samburu, Narok, Bomet, Kajiado, Nakuru and Vihiga – have not remitted salaries for five months.
There are reports that medics are on a go-slow in a number of counties.
Eleven others are said to have offered back-pay for doctors but they did not enhance their terms as agreed.
There has been a blame-game between the national and county governments over who bears responsibility for this situation.
Health CS Cleopa Mailu says Treasury released Sh2.4 billion to pay the doctors after the strike ended and that all the counties have sufficient funds to pay doctors.
Governors, on the other hand, have said they do not have the money to settle the bills.
The party that is to blame is irrelevant. What matters now is that a solution needs to be found to avoid a fresh round of industrial action whose victims will be the patients that rely heavily on the public healthcare system. Money should be found to pay the doctors without further delay.
PAY REMITTED LATE
More broadly, it is important that the managers of the healthcare system find solutions to the arbitrary treatment that doctors have complained about for several years now.
Apart from their dispute with the national government over failure to implement a collective bargaining agreement, there have been complaints that many counties have discriminated against doctors along ethnic lines and that the medics’ pay has frequently been remitted late and sometimes not at all.
Kenya loses too many of its highly skilled young professionals as things stand.
It is careless in the extreme to continue treating doctors with the lack of consideration that is being displayed in the health sector.