Counties will hire temporary medical staff to replace nurses and doctors who are on their fifth day of strike, county service boards have resolved.
During a meeting at Travellers Beach Hotel in Mombasa Thursday evening, members of county public service boards condemned the threat by Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union (KMPDU) to close public, private and church hospitals countrywide.
The chairman of the 47 Counties Public Service Boards National Consultative Forum, Philip Kungu, said the doctors do not have authority to shut down public, private and mission hospitals and asked the government to provide security to all health facilities.
“Hospitals, whether private or public, have people who make decisions on whether they can be shut or not. If KMPDU secretary general Dr Ouma Oluga means that the hospitals will be shut by them withdrawing their labour, they are also aware of the legal consequences because there is a court order in place that has banned the strike,” he said.
He announced that counties will hire health workers on locum basis to save the lives of Kenyans in dire need of medical attention as soon as needed.
Mr Kungu at the same time urged the striking health workers to end the stalemate by giving dialogue a chance.
Mr Kungu, who is also the chairman of the Nairobi City County Public Service Board, said although there are challenges in the health sector, doctors should know that Kenyans are suffering.
He urged retired clinical officers, nurses and any well-wishers with skills and the competence required to apply for the jobs.
“We have asked our members to work closely with the governors so that temporary measures can be put in place as interventions to get people to man these facilities and provide the services required. We cannot be indifferent to the suffering of Kenyans,” he said.
He said it is regrettable that even lives have been lost during the push and pull between union officials and the government.
He said the health workers cannot afford to take such a hard stance especially when lives are involved.
Mr Kungu said the county public service boards have powers to take disciplinary action on its members of staff provided correct procedures and processes are followed.
“There is always give or take. We cannot sit and watch Kenyans die. If people sit and reason together this can be resolved,” he said.
He added that they are supporting the stand that was taken by Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu and the council of governors on how to approach the issues raised by the striking doctors and the proposals made on how to end the stalemate.