An ongoing strike by Kenya medical doctors working at public hospitals has already claimed the lives of 14 patients, and all hospitals may be closed next week if a solution is not found as soon as possible, media reports said this week.
The strike began on Monday, and all hospitals have been deserted by the medical personnel. Patients have been left stranded and those seeking treatment were turned away.
Unions are demanding a 300% pay increase and a 25 to 40% increase for nurses that was agreed to in a collective bargaining agreement in 2013.
However, the agreement has yet to be implemented.
The Kenyan government offered a 50 000 Kenya Shillings (US$500) pay increase to the lowest paid doctors, which would have raised their salaries to 176 000 KSH (US$1 723).
But unions rejected the offer and walked out of talks once again. “We want to make it very clear that this strike shall only be called off by the implementation of the collective bargaining agreement,” Dr Ouma Oluga, secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, said.
More than 100 patients escaped from the country’s sole psychiatric hospital in Nairobi as the strike began.
Scenes such as these are a common sight across Africa, as governments allocate just a fraction of their countries’ Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to health needs.
Kenya is Africa’s fifth-largest economy, worth about US$61 billion, but its healthcare system is appalling and seriously underfunded.
Kenyan doctors have long complained about low pay, and thousands have moved abroad for higher paying positions.
People in this East African nation often criticise politicians for seeking medical treatment outside the country, demonstrating they have no faith in medical care in their home nation.
(DW/Sifa News, additional reporting and final editing by Issa Sikiti). Pic by Daily Nation