Five South Rift counties have moved to avert a possible strike by doctors scheduled to begin later this month, the Nation has learnt.
More than 30 doctors from Nakuru, Narok, Kericho, Bomet and Kajiado counties have been cleared to pursue further studies.
This follows a 21-day strike notice by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) South Rift officials last week.
According to regional KMPDU Secretary-General Davji Atellah, the six counties had failed to implement the 2017-2021 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), denying the doctors their study leave and promotions.
He noted that four counties, have cleared their doctors to proceed on study leave and promised to promote deserving ones, apart from Laikipia, which is yet to respond. “If Laikipia County does not respond positively within the 21 days, we shall call a strike for all our doctors working in that county,” said Dr Atellah.
But a statement from the Laikipia County Government's Communication Department explained that it is spending approximately Sh10 million a month on doctors and other cadres of health sector staff sector on study leave.
“Recently, we received 18 requests from medical officers requesting to proceed on paid study leave. These requests have been declined due to lack of financial and human resources in the department,” said the statement, adding that 12 medical officers have since left to pursue further studies.
The statement also explained that the county government has hired 20 doctors to bridge the gap left by those on study leave.
Dr Atellah said that they will negotiate with the county on the matter, failing which they will call on the medics to down their tools.
“We were hoping to have a negotiation with the county because as at now, other South Rift counties have released doctors, for instance Nakuru (13), Kericho (9), Bomet (5) and Narok (3),” said Dr Atellah.
Dr Atellah further warned some counties against sending doctors on unpaid study leave.
“It is illegal and unethical, yet the counties need consultants, so there is a need to train and retain,” he pointed out.
South Rift has more than 600 doctors, with more than 1,000 having resigned in the past two years.
KMPDU says the resignations of both medical officers and consultant doctors have greatly affected the delivery of health services in some of the counties, with Nakuru and Laikipia the hardest hit after losing 40 and 34 staff respectively.
The medics issued the strike notice in the wake of huge doctors resignations in the region in the past two years.