Kenyan doctors stop providing emergency services at public hospitals as strike enters second week


NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenyan doctors stopped providing emergency services at public hospitals on Thursday, as they escalated a national strike that entered its second week.

Thousands of doctors have stayed away from hospitals since last Thursday over poor pay and working conditions, despite a court order calling for talks between the doctors and the Health Ministry.

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union Secretary-General Dr. Davji Bhimji said the doctors escalated the strike and stopped providing bare minimum services because the government had shown no efforts to resolve the labor dispute.

“In the morning, we managed to close the emergency services that were being offered at the Kenyatta national referral hospital,” he told journalists on Wednesday.

Health Minister Susan Nakhumicha on Wednesday told local television station KTN that she had instructed two top referral hospitals to recruit doctors to replace those taking part in the national strike.

“We will not allow a crisis to happen… We cannot afford to have a gap,” she said, adding that doctors were offered temporary replacements starting Wednesday night.

An Associated Press journalist confirmed on Thursday morning that emergency services at the Kenyatta national referral hospital in the capital, Nairobi, had resumed.

The ministry is due on Thursday to issue letters to 1,000 medical interns who will be posted in various hospitals across the country.

The striking doctors accuse the government of failing to implement a raft of promises, including a collective bargaining agreement signed in 2017 after a 100-day strike that saw people die from lack of care.

A meeting between the union, ministry officials and State House officials is also due to be held on Thursday aimed at resolving the stand-off, which has left thousands of Kenyans without much-needed public health services.



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