Religious leaders call on striking medics to resume work as they dialogue with govt

Friday December 9 2016

Bishop Mark Kariuki (right), chairman of the

Bishop Mark Kariuki (right), chairman of the Evangelical Churches of Kenya, speaks to journalists at Deliverance Church International in Nakuru on December 8, 2016. He has called on striking health workers to return to work and save lives as they seek a dialogue with the government. PHOTO | MAGDALENE WANJA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MAGDALENE WANJA
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Religious leaders have called on the striking health workers to return to work and save lives as they seek a dialogue with the government.

Led by Bishop Mark Kariuki, the chairman of the Evangelical Churches of Kenya, the leaders said the workers should consider calling off the strike to relieve pain and help prevent the deaths of poor Kenyans.

Bishop Kariuki, who spoke at Deliverance Church International in Nakuru on Thursday, said it is wrong for the health issue to be politicised while Kenyans continue suffering.

“During a strike like this, it’s the poor Kenyans who suffer. The sad bit is whenever there’s an issue like this, it becomes political, with both [sides of the political divide] blaming each other,” he said.

The bishop added that, as religious leaders, they are ready to mediate between the workers and government in reaching an agreement.

“As a church, we have mediated during such matters in the past, including the teachers’ strike and a solution [was reached].

"We are ready [to intervene] but before negotiations commence, health workers should be in their work [places] to save lives,” he said.

The call comes five days after the workers went on strike demanding higher pay, promotions and better working conditions, among other demands.

MASSIVE CORRUPTION

The bishop pointed out recent scandals at the Ministry of Health that he blamed for the suffering of Kenyans.

“We have seen massive alleged corruption in the Ministry of Health and that money can be used to pay for doctors and nurses if well utilised,” he said.

He also warned Kenyans that corruption is evil and should be fought by all.

The clergymen also called on leaders in the government and in the Opposition to play a role in finding a solution to the stalemate.

“I would urge the health workers to consider the value of life, which is more than money. We understand their sacrifices and that they may not get [all that they] are asking for, but they should embrace whatever the government offers in order to save lives,” said Rev Daniel Gichana, the church’s national youth co-ordinator.

They were speaking during the third day of a five-day "Raise Your Game" conference that attracted more than 1,500 young people from various parts of the country.

The conference seeks to enlighten the youth on academics, relationships and entrepreneurship.