Kenyan Doctors Protest Prolonged Strike

Kenyan Doctors Protest Prolonged Strike
Kenyan Doctors Protest Prolonged Strike

Hundreds of hospital doctors joined a demonstration in the streets of the Kenyan capital Nairobi as a nationwide strike by medics neared its fourth week.

About a dozen riot police in pickup trucks monitored the protest, which was not authorized by the authorities.

Members of the 7,000-strong Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) have been on strike since March 13 to demand better pay and working conditions, disrupting health care at the country's 57 public hospitals.

Wearing white lab coats and blowing horns and whistles, the doctors chanted "solidarity forever" as they marched to the health ministry, where they blocked the entrance gates.

The procession was mostly peaceful but a group of men threw stones at the doctors, destroying a car parked near the health ministry.

The doctors then marched to parliament to present a petition highlighting their grievances.

The union last week rejected an offer by the government that included paying arrears under a 2017 collective bargaining agreement, and hiring trainee doctors on permanent contracts.

In March, a labor court had ordered the union to suspend the strike and last week it set a 14-day deadline for the completion of negotiations to end the stalemate.

Kenyan President William Ruto, who has embarked on cost-cutting measures since taking office in 2022, ruled out any further concessions.

Poor salaries and working conditions have led to an exodus of Kenyan medics to other African countries and further afield.

In 2017, doctors staged a 100-day nationwide strike that left public hospitals shut.

Dozens of patients died from a lack of treatment during the walkout, which ended after a collective bargaining agreement was reached.

But doctors have accused the government of reneging on some parts of the deal, leading to the current strike.