Doctors and nurses at Kenya’s biggest publicly-funded hospital started a strike on Monday to push for better remuneration, paralyzing services at a time the nation is battling Covid-19.
The workers want the government to implement a new organizational structure, including pay adjustments, agreed in 2012 when the Kenyatta National Hospital, or KNH, was upgraded to a top-tier parastatal, according to their union.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission, mandated to advise on pay of public officers, hasn’t approved a new pay deal, Chibanzi Mwachonda, secretary general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, said by phone.
The strike is the latest obstacle to Kenya’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak, currently with 38,115 confirmed infections and 691 deaths.
Health-care workers earlier threatened nationwide protests next month over poor working conditions, including a lack of proper personal protective equipment.
Several county-run health facilities already reduced their capacity because they haven’t received funding from the central government two months into the new financial year.
The strike at KNH may continue until a new pay deal is approved, the Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general, Seth Panyako, said separately.
KNH’s chief executive, Evans Kamuri, couldn’t immediately comment when called on Monday.