Kenya president: At least 20 dead as medical workers strike

2016-12-07 21:06
President Uhuru Kenyatta.(File: AFP)

President Uhuru Kenyatta.(File: AFP)

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Nairobi - Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Wednesday urged striking medical workers to return to the job, saying nearly 20 people have died three days into the strike because of lack of care.

All doctors and nurses from public hospitals across the country have gone on strike, leading to a crisis in the health sector.

"Let us be human and be mindful of the lives of the patients. I am confident that we will find a solution to the problem," Kenyatta said.

But even as the president spoke, the chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Samuel Oroko, stormed out of a meeting with health ministry officials saying the talks had collapsed after union officials learned that the government was seeking court orders to arrest them.

"We shall not negotiate until the government withdraws any court issues in good faith," Oroko said.

The majority of people in this East African country cannot afford private health care, and the strike has put emergency cases at higher risk of death. On first day of the strike, 87 patients escaped from the country's sole psychiatric hospital.

Doctors and nurses have complained for a decade about low pay, and thousands have taken jobs abroad. Kenyans often criticize politicians for seeking treatment abroad, saying they show no faith in the health care system at home.

On social media, health care workers and the public have accused the government of being slow to raise salaries while being quick to pay inflated contracts from suspect companies doing business with the health ministry, which is being investigated for corruption.

Read more on:    uhuru kenyatta  |  kenya  |  east africa
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