What’s in the deal between the government and the doctors?

Written By: Eric Biegon

Dr Mwachonda & CS Kagwe during the Return to Formula signing ceremony on 24/12/2020. PICTURE / PURITY MUSEO

Doctors downed their tools early this week after a strike notice issued by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, KMPDU. In doing so, the union had accused the government of neglecting the welfare, safety & health of healthcare workers.

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As part of the grievances, KMPDU claimed there was no provision of medical insurance, workman injury benefits & compensation & lack of adequate quality PPEs for its members, even though they were in the frontline against covid-19.

But four days after paralysis in various health facilities, the union announced that it had reached an agreement with the state regarding issues raised and therefore brought the doctors’ industrial action to an end.

But what exactly is in the deal that was signed between KMPDU, Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Labour?

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First, the parties have agreed that the National Treasury will fast-track the release of the required budgetary allocations. This is to enable the counties to procure a Comprehensive Group Life, Last Expense, Enhance Work Injury Benefits (WIBA), and Group Personal Accident Cover as provided for by NHIF.

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“Counties will make arrangements to procure the Comprehensive Medical Cover as provided for by NHIF on expiry of the running contracts signed between counties and other insurance providers by 28th February 2021.” The signed pact indicates.

In the deal, the Ministry of Health, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission and the National Treasury will continue consultations so as to allow for the payment of the call allowance owed to doctors.

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Subject to availability of funds, the Ministry of Health has been asked to consider renewal of the contracts of the 116 d0ctors recruited to serve in the COVID-19 Isolation and Treatment Centers across the Country.

This, added to a consideration by the ministry to provide permanent and pensionable terms to 206 doctors working at Kenyatta National Hospital on contract terms.

At the same time, the parties to the deal are required to engage further in good faith and trust to restore industrial harmony in the public health sector.

“The signatories have full and lawful mandate whether inherent or delegated to execute this return to work formula.” Read the agreement

Over and above this, the return to work formula document states that there shall be no victimization whatsoever and that the employer shall forthwith unconditionally stop all disciplinary processes facing the doctors.

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On this issue, the letter by COG to governors instructing action against striking doctors was cited, and it is expected that all show cause letters, dismissal letters and any other written threat of punishment emanating from the industrial action will be withdrawn.

Meanwhile, there will be unconditional release of all withheld salaries arising from the strike.

Both levels of government were also asked to endeavor to provide adequate and quality Personal Protective Equipment to all doctors.

Lastly, the Ministry of Labour has committed to conciliate pending issues so as to find lasting solution to the grievances by healthcare workers.

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