‘Nakhumicha must go’! Doctors protest posting of interns

Doctors gathered at Afya House on Friday to express their discontent, advocating for the immediate posting of interns and addressing various grievances, including improved pay. Clad in their professional attire of white coats and blue surgical caps, they brandished banners and sounded whistles, marching down Hospital Road from Kenyatta National Hospital.

Chants of “Nakhumicha must go!” reverberated through the streets, highlighting the doctors’ frustration. The protest, which marked the ninth day of the strike, demonstrated their resolve to continue until their demands were met.

Amid the lively procession, banners conveyed messages such as “It’s the government on strike, not doctors,” underscoring their assertion that they were compelled to take action due to systemic issues. Accusations flew towards the Ministry of Health, alleging collusion with county governments to deprive doctors of their rights.

Renowned figures, including 2022 presidential aspirant Reuben Kigame, stood in solidarity with the protesting doctors, amplifying their call for change.

Central to their demands was the immediate posting of medical interns and the settlement of overdue salary arrears, as stipulated in the 2017 collective bargaining agreement. Despite previous assurances from the Ministry of Health, Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha cited financial constraints, stating that the required funds amounted to Sh4.9 billion, which the ministry purportedly lacked.

On March 18, following discussions with the Ministry of Health, the doctors remained resolute, emphasizing that they would not relent until all grievances were addressed. Despite indications of goodwill from the ministry, the doctors remained skeptical, citing past unfulfilled promises.

Davji Atellah, the Secretary General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union, reiterated their commitment to the strike, emphasizing the longstanding nature of their grievances. Despite assurances from Nakhumicha regarding the commencement of intern postings from April 1, skepticism persisted, given past disappointments.

In a media briefing, Nakhumicha acknowledged progress in addressing internal ministry issues but reiterated the need for tangible action to quell the ongoing discontent among medical professionals.