April 25th 2017

Society / Health & Science

Civil society wants doctors' strike ended before rains to avoid epidemics

It should not be lost on them and the national government that when the rains will fall as they are beginning to, these decomposing carcasses will be washed downstream into rivers and lakes where majority of our poor populations still fetch water for domestic use.

By Jack Otwalanewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comSunday, 19 Feb 2017 15:16 EAT

The Civil Society Reference Group has asked the government to speedily resolve the doctors' strike before the onset of the long rains, during which epidemics including waterborne infections that could destabilise the country's health situation unless the healthcare system was fully functional.

In a statement to media, CSRG convenor Churchill Suba called on the National and County Governments to "give ongoing talks their full commitment and bring the ongoing strike by medical practitioners to an end and avert disaster."

Below is the full statement by the Reference Group-

CIVIL SOCIETY REFERENCE GROUP

PRESS STATEMENT: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE ON THIS 19TH DAY OF FEBRUARY 2017

With the onset of long rains, Kenya is faced with imminent outbreak of epidemics of unprecedented proportions if ongoing strike by doctors is not resolved at the earliest opportunity. The civil society REFERENCE GROUP calls on the National and County Governments to give ongoing talks their full commitment and bring the ongoing strike by medical practitioners to an end AND AVERT DISASTER

The Civil Society Reference Group (CSRG) calls on the National Government, County Governments under the auspices of the Council of Governors and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) who are the key protagonists in the ongoing strike by medical practitioners to make optimal use of the window of opportunity accorded by the Court of Appeal and resolve all issues for which doctors in public hospitals have been on strike for more than two months and alleviate the suffering of the majority of Kenyans who cannot afford the high cost of medical services in private hospitals.

The CSRG is particularly concerned that it is the national government officials who are the primary duty bearers charged with the responsibility of ensuring public access to health care that were left with blame when the Industrial Court provided the first opportunity for a mediated settlement of the dispute that is increasingly becoming a threat to our national health and security.

We call on all parties to the dispute, particularly the national government, to realize that when a strike by doctors who provide such essential services is allowed to fester as it has happened, the whole country and its vulnerable population is left at the mercy of epidemics, more so at a time when the country is experiencing one of its worst seasons of drought.

Any time Kenyans watch carcasses of dead animals left to decompose in grazing fields due to biting drought on national television, it should not be lost on them and the national government that when the rains will fall as they are beginning to, these decomposing carcasses will be washed downstream into rivers and lakes where majority of our poor populations still fetch water for domestic use. Moreover, in a country where levels of sanitation is still at the bare minimum, with huge segments of the urban and rural poor still defecating in the open, and surface water is the main source of water for drinking and cooking, the fear of outbreak of waterborne diseases like cholera becomes real as those in authority continue to treat the doctors strike as a problem of the medical practitioners that only they (striking doctors) can resolve by calling off the strike.

The CSRG has had the opportunity to hold talks with the leadership of the medical fraternity and is convinced that the medical practitioners have raised pertinent issues that cannot just be wished away. Their concerns are legitimate and their amicable resolution in a manner that is acceptable to all will go a long way in improving the quality of medical and health services in the country for the good of the people whom they took the Hippocratic Oath to serve.

It should not be lost on the Kenyan public and the authorities that medical practitioners not only treat the sick and provide comfort to the ailing but also play such important roles as collection and analysis of data on morbidity trends, provide public health education and manage early warning systems that are currently in jeopardy as doctors continue with industrial action to press for better terms of service and improved conditions of work.

We are particularly alarmed that despite this obvious negative impact of the ongoing strike by doctors, those charged with the responsibility of providing leadership on such grave issues of national concern continue to politic as if the country is not faced with a national crisis with the potential to compromise our national security as a people.

The CSRG however, wishes to applaud the judiciary, particularly the Industrial Court and more recently the Court of Appeal for invoking the provisions of Article 159 of the Constitution that allow “courts and tribunals to create room for and promote alternative forms of dispute resolution including mediation” that is now being explored as a way of resolving the strike by medical practitioners.

We commend the courts for this and call on parties to the dispute, and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) that is jointly mediating the talks with the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), to remain alive to the unbearable suffering of the general public even as they pay every attention to the legitimate grievances that the striking doctors have raised and midwife an amicable solution to the impasse at the earliest time possible.

 

Signed and issued on this 19th Day of February 2017

Suba Churchill

Presiding Convener

Mobile Tel: 0722 594 938

For and on Behalf of the Membership &

Oversight Committee of the Civil Society Reference Group  

Jack is a business and society writer at the Kenya Free Press





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