Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua has issued a 48-hour ultimatum for striking doctors to resume duty or face disciplinary action.
Dr Mutua also toured the Machakos level 5 hospital and witnessed the pain patients were undergoing as a result of the strike by doctors.
However, he did not announce specific disciplinary action to be taken.
Doctors in the county went on strike on Tuesday protesting poor working conditions and interference from the county government.
They said they were withdrawing their services since Dr Mutua had not addressed the issues that they had raised with him in a series of communications.
The doctors under the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) said the strike had commenced from Monday mid-night and no doctor was offering services throughout the county.
Speaking in Machakos town on Tuesday, the doctors cited suspension of doctors by the governor without following due procedure and lack of promotions as some of the reasons for the strike.
They also said non-remittance of statutory deductions including the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) and poor housing conditions were issues that they had raised with the governor.
KMPPDU Chairman Lower Eastern, Dr Harvey Mbithi said there was a policy document by the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) chaired by Sarah Serem which was supposed to provide mortgage for doctors but the county had not implemented the policy.
“There is need to stop political interference in health systems. We cannot have a governor’s wife come to hospital and instruct doctors. We cannot have members of county assembly instructing doctors on what to do. We condemn this as a Union,” said Dr Mbithi.
The Union Secretary Mr Kirubi Kariuki said the union would declare Machakos County a hostile employer if the governor did not solve the issues raised.
He said there were 120 doctors in Machakos County and Machakos Level Five hospital alone required about 90 doctors.
Mr Kariuki said Kenya has a deficit of close to 80,000 doctors and wondered where governor Mutua would get doctors to replace the ones who would quit.
Last week, governor Mutua maintained that he will not bow to pressure from any worker who was not performing according to standards including the doctors.”As your governor, I will not be blackmailed by people who do not want to be held to account. Each public officer whether an Engineer, a cook, a cleaner or doctor will be held accountable for the services that you provide to the people of Machakos failure you will go home,” governor Mutua told county officials at a seminar in Machakos on Friday.
He said there were over 8,000 jobseekers in the county government databank and it would be easy to replace any worker.
“No one should think they are too important. The only person who would pose a challenge in replacing is a mortician because not many people would like to work in a mortuary,” governor Mutua said.
Source: The Nation.