Kenya doctor strike: The public caught between the medics and the government


Most of the beds at Kihara Level 4 Hospital near Nairobi, Kenya, are empty because doctors are on strike. They’ve been striking for about a month, so public hospitals are very quiet. This means patients have to go to expensive private hospitals or wait longer for treatment. The doctors are striking because they’re not happy with their pay and because the government hasn’t hired trainee doctors.

The strike is causing a lot of problems. For example, a woman lost her baby because she couldn’t get the surgery she needed during labor. Another woman’s baby has been in the hospital for months with a condition that needs constant care, but there aren’t enough doctors available to help.

Even in places like slums, people are feeling the effects. A pastor says he’s seeing more sick people because they can’t see a doctor. He tries to help by offering prayers.

Now, not only doctors but also clinical officers are on strike. These officers usually provide care in outpatient clinics and are important, especially in rural areas.

The government offered to pay the doctors’ arrears and hire intern doctors, but the doctors said no because the pay was too low. The government says it can’t hire all the trainee doctors because it doesn’t have enough money.

Some doctors waiting to be hired are frustrated. They feel like the government doesn’t care about them or their skills.

The situation is getting worse. Some governors are threatening to fire the striking doctors, and one hospital in Nairobi has already laid off over 100 doctors. But the doctors are still on strike.

Religious leaders and opposition politicians want the government to talk to the doctors and end the strike. But it might take a long time. A similar strike in 2017 lasted about 100 days.

But for people like Ms. Mbugua, who has a sick baby, they just want things to go back to normal soon. They want the doctors to come back to work.


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