The National Gender and Equality Commission has closely been monitoring the Labour dispute pitting the Government and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU). This dispute has seen the disruption of essential health services countrywide as doctors have been on strike for the last 72 days. This is by far the most disruptive industrial action ever in the history of the Kenya Labour sector and which has come at a colossal loss of human life. The incarceration of the Union officials has served to aggravate an already bad situation.
The worst affected in this quagmire are vulnerable children, women, the elderly and persons with disabilities who cannot access medical services. Article 43 (1) (a) of the Constitution of Kenya 2010 provides every person the right to the highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services including reproductive health.
We wish to state the following:-
- It is the obligation of government to ensure adequate resources both human and financial to ensure proper functioning and delivery of health services.
- It is the responsibility of government not to compromise the quality of health care by addressing the legitimate concerns raised by the medical professionals.
- While we remind doctors of their social contract, the Hippocratic Oath and the ethical concerns that the strike raises touching on their professional conduct, we are aware that they too have their right to fair pay and better working conditions.
- The greatest responsibility in unlocking this stalemate lies squarely with the Government at both levels.
- We hereby urge a prompt resumption of negotiations-which we insist MUST be done in good faith with a view of settling the dispute amicably and in a timely fashion. This must also consider the release of the doctors jailed.
WINFRED O. LICHUMA EBS