The government through the Ministry of Health has signed a return to work formula with the striking clinical officers which will see them go back to work within the next 24 hours.
“Last week on the eve of Christmas Day, we signed a return to work formula with the doctors who had just started their strike early in the week and as we noted at the signing ceremony, it was a Christmas gift to our people. Today, we witnessed another signing of a return to work formula with the officials of Clinical Officers. There cannot be a better new year’s gift from our health care workers than the clinical officers and I thank you indeed,” said Health Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mutahi Kagwe at Afya House on Friday, January 1, 2021.
CS Kagwe said that this comes after lengthy deliberations between the officials of the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Health ministry, the clinical officers officials and Council of Governors (CoG).
The deal brings to an end a strike that started on December 7, 2020.
Kagwe said the government is committed to ensuring the delivery of services to the people without interruption and would do everything possible to get all the striking workers back to work.
“As we battle COVID-19, we need all hands on deck as the disease is not showing any signs of relenting,” said Kagwe.
He added that the government is fully committed to protecting the health workers via the provision of Personal Protective Equipment’s (PPE’s), providing insurance covers and improving their welfare as they remained our frontline soldiers in the war against COVID-19.
Kagwe thanked all the officials who made the negotiations possible and for the good outcome and called on all the other striking health workers to return to work as soon as possible considering that schools re-open on Monday and there needs to be a guarantee of health services.
He added that there were ongoing discussions with the striking nurses and it is in the interest of the government to have a happy working health team as all the different types of health workers needed each other for seamless operation.
The CS added that they have extended the term of the interfaith council for another six months as their term was coming to an end at the close of 2020.
“I would also like to give a very big thank you to members of press for being with us here on a daily basis since the pandemic begun. We don’t take for granted what you do in helping us educate the public on matters COVID-19,” said Kagwe.
The CS highlighted that the government has ordered COVID-19 vaccines and was also in negotiations with other vaccine manufactures including China, Pfizer, AstraZeneca and others that have been approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) which would increase Kenya’s chances of increasing the efficacy by using different vaccines.
“We have the protocols that we are going to use in administering the COVID-19 vaccines and the first people to be vaccinated include the frontline workers who also are the healthcare workers, police and teachers. The process will be for those who are willing not mandatory,” said Kagwe.
He said that the Kenya Chamber of Commerce and Industr provided 7.5 million masks which would be distributed to needy and deserving students insisting that a mask is now a part of the school uniform.
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) Secretary General George Gibore said that they have called off the strike which was on for 26 days after having talks with the multiagency team and agreeing on 17 issues.
Gibore said that the main issue agreed on involved the welfare of the clinical officers which included provision of adequate and quality PPEs, medical cover and group life insurance which would ensure the members get covered when hospitalized with COVID-19 complications and received compensation in case of death arising from the same, while those on contracts to would get benefits including NHIF among others.
KUCO chairman Peterson Wachira said that they were glad that they would be going back to an environment that is safe for them and the patients.
“What we have started here is not an end to itself and we have agreed with the CS that this is a journey that we are taking together to ensure that we walk hand in hand and we will regularly review the process as we work towards the attainment of the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) under the Big4 agenda,” said Wachira.