In a developing crisis, doctors across four Kenyan counties have staged a strike, causing significant disruptions to public health services in the regions. The strike, which affects Bomet, Kisumu, Nyamira, and Vihiga counties, comes as a result of doctors having gone unpaid for several months.
Tensions escalated on April 19th, when doctors from Vihiga and Nyamira counties took to the streets in protest, demanding an urgent meeting with their respective county governments. As one distressed nurse from Nyamira County lamented, “Our families are struggling at home. Our children can’t go to school and most of us can’t pay rent on time, yet we are on the frontline helping others.”
In Kisumu County, the situation was dire, with some patients receiving care from medical students, while others sought treatment in private hospitals. Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary-General Dr. Davji Atellah announced in a statement that doctors and all health workers in Nyamira, Vihiga, and Kisumu would continue to strike until their demands were met.
Atellah noted that three other counties – Bomet, Mombasa, and Nyandarua – have reached out to the union and pledged to make payments. These counties have been given a deadline of the end of the week to fulfill their promises. Atellah remained steadfast in his position, stating, “There is no amount of intimidation that the counties will try to sort out the results of the workers to get their rights. It is the responsibility of the county government to pay their workers and take care of them.”
The KMPDU Secretary-General also highlighted the precarious financial situation many doctors now face due to the delayed salary payments. He explained that doctors from various health unions have reported being unable to meet their daily needs, rendering them unable to report to work.
Atellah emphasized, “Doctors are unable to meet their daily needs, including transport, food, and accommodation. We recognize that the provision of quality healthcare is vital to our nation, and we remain committed to fulfilling our obligations to patients and the community at large. However, we cannot continue to operate in these conditions as it has become increasingly difficult for our members to meet their basic needs.”
The ongoing strike threatens to impact an additional twelve counties, including Kisumu, Mombasa, Nyamira, Kisii, Murang’a, Nyeri, Laikipia, Bomet, Nyandarua, Embu, Vihiga, and Taita Taveta, leaving countless Kenyans at risk of inadequate medical care.