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Doctors in Kenya begins nationwide strike

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Doctors at Kenya’s public hospitals began a nationwide strike Thursday, accusing the government of failing to implement a raft of promises from a collective bargaining agreement signed in 2017.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union said they went on strike to demand comprehensive medical cover for the doctors and because the government has yet to post 1,200 medical interns.

Dr. Davji Bhimji, secretary-general of KMPDU, said 4,000 doctors took part in the strike despite a labor court order asking the union to put the strike on hold to allow talks with the government. And Dr. Dennis Miskellah, deputy secretary general of the union, said they would disregard the court order the same way the government had disregarded three court orders to increase basic pay for doctors and reinstate suspended doctors.

Miskellah said doctors were committing suicide out of work-related frustration, while others have had to fundraise to get treated for sickness due to a lack of a comprehensive health coverage.

In 2017, doctors at Kenya’s public hospitals held a 100-day strike — the longest ever held in the country — to demand better wages and for the government to restore the country’s dilapidated public-health facilities. They also demanded continuous training of and hiring of doctors to address a severe shortage of health professionals.

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