What will happen to doctors if they refuse to return to work

Friday March 10 2017

Dr Samuel Oroko (centre), the national chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, with the association's national secretary-general Dr Ouma Oluga (left) and Nairobi branch secretary Dr Thuranira Kaugiria at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi on December 8, 2016. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Dr Samuel Oroko (centre), the national chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, with the association's national secretary-general Dr Ouma Oluga (left) and Nairobi branch secretary Dr Thuranira Kaugiria at Kenyatta National Hospital in Nairobi on December 8, 2016. PHOTO | FRANCIS NDERITU | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By KWAMCHETSI MAKOKHA
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Stupidity is so scarce in State House that were you to light a lamp in broad daylight and go looking for it, you could not find it under a bed or any hidden nook or cranny.

Only stupid people do not know the tricks doctors in Kenya’s public hospitals have been up to, working a mere 120 minutes in a day and spending the rest of their waking hours minting money in their private clinics. Doctors are mistaken in thinking that the people in the presidency are fools for not punishing their habitual absenteeism. This a clear case of misdiagnosis so characteristic of medical practice in Kenya.

Proof of this malpractice is available in the number of patients who have risen from their sickbeds and deathbeds in the strike period, completely healed and ready to go home, thanks to the hard work of clinical officers, nurses and hospital cleaners working without the uppity supervision of dodgy doctors. Deaths in hospital have declined dramatically in the 100 days that doctors have been on strike.

Private hospitals are the backbone of Kenya’s healthcare system and cannot be openly sabotaged by paying doctors in public service better. It is unimaginable that the country’s top brains and mouths would be attended by medical staff earning less than interns in rundown public hospitals. There is a very real risk of private hospitals becoming cheap and being forced to close down. As it were, the poor die every day unremarked, but when a leader expires from old age or a chronic ailment, the country pauses to grieve.

BLACKMAIL GOVERNMENT

The doctors’ union leaders gambled on 2017 being an election year to blackmail the government into paying them more money, but they did not reckon that if all their 5,000 members, their families and their livestock voted against the President, the world would not end. At a time when the President and his deputy have taken a pay cut, the doctors’ union leaders’ disrespect for the presidency in declining a 40 per cent pay deal, and their intransigent refusal to apologise for their chicanery, has brought the country to a difficult pass that can be referred to as a bit of a problem.

Now, as sure as the sun rises in the east, the government will sort out striking doctors in the following systematic manner: All strikers will be fired, evicted from government accommodation and ordered to return government issue equipment, uniforms, dustcoats and material. Those found in illegal possession of government stores will be arrested and charged with theft by servant.

CLINICS SHUT

All private clinics, the beloved kiosks of medical practitioners, shall be shut to cut off arrogant doctors’ income. Doctors with a history of striking to demand pay rises instead of healing the sick shall be deregistered for failing to uphold the Hippocratic oath. Doctors who refuse to work for the government shall be sent into mass unemployment by inviting underemployed doctors from Cuba, Tanzania and India. The little hurdle about foreign doctors having to work under the supervision of Kenyans is easily sorted by offering them citizenship.

Doctors who are still in training on government scholarships will have their education brought to a screeching halt. There is nothing to stop the government from recalling the medical degrees of strikers and withdrawing their passports so that they die of starvation.

If all else fails, there is an ace up the government’s sleeve: the Kenyan citizenships of striking doctors will be revoked and the whole lot of them invited to take up residence in Somalia where they can exercise their labour rights.