Kenya: Doctors’ Strike Persists, Leading to Surge in Mortality

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As the doctors’ strike enters its second month, the situation in public hospitals has reached a critical juncture. Practitioners in the public sector have been advocating for weeks for the regularization of interns, improved salaries, more equipment, and better working conditions. According to a study conducted by The Daily Nation newspaper, the industrial action has resulted in a spike in mortality rates.

The morgues in Nairobi and Mombasa, the country’s second-largest city, are reportedly overwhelmed, as noted by The Daily Nation. This surge in mortality is acknowledged by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), the driving force behind the mobilization.

Presently, public hospitals in the capital are nearly deserted, with most of them turning away patients. Along the coast, hospitals in the six counties are operating at occupancy rates below 30%, according to the KMPDU.

Consequently, authorities are appealing to the sense of responsibility of Kenyan doctors. On Tuesday, the Council of Governors ordered them to return to work. President William Ruto himself urged doctors not to “live beyond the means of the country.”

However, such statements only strengthen the resolve of the striking doctors. Their demands were all agreed upon by the government in 2017 during the signing of new collective bargaining agreements. “It is the authorities who are abandoning the patients, not the doctors!” protests Davji Bhimji Atellah, the Secretary-General of the KMPDU. “On the contrary, we are fighting for a quality and sustainable healthcare system,” he concludes.

Soukaina Sghir

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