The government failed, for the second day, to convince striking medics to get back to work.
In what could worsen the suffering of the sick in public hospitals, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu on Tuesday evening admitted the talks between the government, nurses and medical doctors had failed to reach a solution, meaning that the strike would continue.
At a press conference at Afya House, Dr Mailu who was accompanied by Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma, Council of Governors Chair and Meru Governor Peter Munya and Kisii’s James Ongwae, seemed to suggest that the medics, in particular the nurses, had refused to show up and discuss the matter.
Earlier in the day, doctors had walked out of Afya House in what they claimed was the government’s lack of commitment to fulfill the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) they signed in 2013.
“I regret the situation we are finding ourselves in,” Dr Mailu said insisting the talks with the doctors, Council of Governors and his ministry were “progressing well.”
“The situation is grave, we have put measures in place to alleviate the pain of Kenyans,” he added.
The medics refused to work on Monday, throwing the public healthcare into a crisis. The practitioners had warned three weeks ago of an imminent strike if the government failed to implement a pay deal they signed three years ago.
Across the country, patients with wounds were left on their own, security guards were forced to attend to women in labour, children born immature were left to their fate and the dead remained in wards long after they died.
But the government’s reaction was initially about threats, with counties warning they will sack striking medics as the ministry warned the strike could be illegal. Later, the Ministry of Health accused them of refusing to talk.
“We had a contract with nurses. We were to have a meeting with them to have a framework of moving forward. They never showed up as agreed,” Dr Mailu said of the nurses.
When asked about the Clinical Officers strike that begin Tuesday midnight, Dr Mailu said he was not aware of it, but confirmed he received their letter with their grievances on Monday at 4pm and it was wrong for them to call for the industrial action.
On this impending strike he said: “I cannot stop you. Examine your conscience. If you are contemplating going on strike, don’t do it. Come we negotiate.”