Third Eye

Prevent resumption of clinical officers’ strike

Wednesday, January 6th, 2021 00:00 |
Health Cabinet secretary Mutahi Kagwe. Photo/Gerald Ithana

Clinical officers across the country have threatened to resume their strike tomorrow if governors do not implement a return-to-work formula reached with the National government on January 1.

Should they make good their threat, they will be joining nurses who have been on work boycott for a month now. Indeed, the move would ground services in public health facilities.

To say that the conflict in the sector is unhealthy and could put thousands of patients’ lives in grave danger is an understatement.

Clinical officers argue that the 17 demands they had tabled had been addressed by a multi-agency committee under the Ministry of Labour and accuse governors of failing to honour their part of the bargain.

However, the governors argue that not only have the issues raised by the clinical officers been addressed, individual county governments are handling matters raised in their unique individual circumstances. Governors also say they lack sufficient funds to honour the return-to-work deal.  

As we continue to point out, the net effect of industrial action in the health sector is suffering of patients who are turned away from hospitals, some of them in critical conditions.

That is why we call for reason to prevail among all the parties to prevent further suffering of the innocent.

The fact that President Uhuru Kenyatta was compelled to intervene in the conflict is a strong indication there is goodwill and commitment from the highest levels of government to resolve the matter.

We are fully aware that the Constitution assigned the health sector to the management of counties.

But the country has witnessed constant conflicts between governors and health workers that have often led to sector paralyses. 

County chiefs have often taken any intervention by the National government in matters health as an intrusion on their mandate.

This is despite the fact that the Constitution stipulates that the two levels of government should work in mutual cooperation to serve public interest. 

The country is in the middle of an unprecedented pandemic and a strike by health workers will only aggravate an already bad situation.

Industrial action should be the last act in a conflict especially one that has a direct impact on lives.

We call for restraint, reason and respect from all parties to avoid a new escalation of this conflict.

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