Health services at some Nairobi hospitals have been paralysed following a silent protest by doctors demanding their pay for the last six months and delayed promotions.
The strike was revealed by the doctor’s union secretary-general Ouma Olunga during a State House summit on health.
The doctors say they chose to protest silently because they fear being victimised.
Dr Olunga told the Nation.co.ke that besides unpaid salaries, the doctors are unhappy about delayed promotions and the county's failure to remit their NHIF deductions for the last eight months.
Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union Nairobi branch chairman Thuranira Kaugiria said by phone said the strike started at midnight on Sunday after the county failed to implement a memorandum of understanding signed in October last year following a countywide strike.
He said the county and the doctors signed a return-to-work formula that has not been put to effect.
PAY AND PROMOTIONS
Dr Thuranira said the union wants doctors still on probation to be employed on permanent terms.
He said 128 doctors have not been promoted since 2011.
The doctors also want their salaries to be paid on the fifth day of every month.
Dr Thuranira added that the union met county officials on Thursday last week but no agreement was reached, prompting the strike.
He said the county county officials do not see their grievances as a priority.
Speaking by phone, county assembly health committee chairman Manoah Mboku said the doctors had started a silent strike after the county failed to honour the memorandum of understanding they had signed.
Mr Mboku said the harmonisation of salaries was supposed to have been implemented by now but the county has said anything about the issue.
He said the strike may spread and pull in nurses, who are also threatening to down their tools.
Meanwhile, because of the doctors' strike, only consultants and clinical officers at Mama Lucy Hospital are attending to patients.
Speaking during a tour of the facility, county executive for health Bernard Muia appealed to the doctors to return to work, insisting that most of the issues raised had been resolved.
Dr Muia said the county had held talks with the doctors last week and did not understand why they downed their tools.
“Those on strike should know that there are consequences and I am not threatening them,” warned Dr Muia, adding that he was optimistic that the doctors would resume work.
Mama Lucy Hospital Medical Superintendent Musa Mohammed said the hospital handles mostly outpatients and no one had been turned away because of the strike.
He said the hospital receives between 800 and 1,000 patients a day.
Dr Muia said all county hospitals are currently being run by clinical officers and consultants.