The National Gender and Equality Commission (NGEC) petitioned Uhuru Kenyatta to urgently intervene and resolve Labour dispute pitting his government, devolved units and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials.
In a statement to newsrooms, the commission said that it was unfortunate that the doctors have been on strike for the last 76 days while all essential health services countrywide remained grounded.
“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,” said the commission chair Winfred Lichuma.
Chairperson regretted that the incarceration of the Union officials has served to aggravate an already bad situation.
She noted that as the government and the unions entangle in supremacy battle it is the 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.
The gender commission held that it is the responsibility of government to provide proper healthcare and not to compromise its quality.
It reckoned that the government must address 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,” Lichuma stated.
“It is the obligation of government to ensure adequate resources both human and financial to ensure proper functioning and delivery of health services,” she added.
According to Lichuma, the greatest responsibility in unlocking the doctors’ 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 jailed doctors,” she insisted,
On Wednesday the Court of Appeal released union officials who had been jailed on contempt of court over the strike.
At least 5,000 doctors have been on strike since December 5, demanding better pay and working conditions.
Yesterday, the government and the striking health practitioners jump-started negotiations in a bid to end the ongoing strike.
The talks are led a team from the Law Society of Kenya and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights to a bid to find modalities of the implementation of the 2013 CBA signed between the government and the doctors.
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