Is Odinga’s AU Job a Looming Disaster for the Voiceless Kenyans?

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Kenyans have been without their doctors for three weeks now and there are no signs of the Ruto government solving the problem by dealing honestly with KMPDU which represents the doctors to address their concerns and get them back to work so Kenyans who use the public health care facilities can get healthcare instead of dying in hospitals or at home.

The real issue here is that those politicians and their families would never walk into a public hospital like Kenyatta National Hospital which are places they consider too filthy for them. They have exceptional private hospitals like Nairobi of Karen Hospitals where Kenyan taxpayers spend fortunes making sure their politicians have the best healthcare anywhere in the world.

Your MPs and CSs have places like Karen Hospital where Kenyan tax money give them everything they need or they just go to foreign countries with your money to get anything they need in healthcare.


For the average Kenyan suffering from crippling diseases, public hospital doctors who have been on strike since last month are their only source of health services and they are asking the Kenya government to meet them to discuss their grievances against.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), which represents over 7,000 members, went on strike on March 15 to demand payment of their salary arrears and the immediate hiring of trainee doctors.

It also wants the government to address frequent delays in salaries and to start paying doctors who work in public hospitals as part of their higher degree courses.

The minister of health Susan Nakhumicha has said the government cannot afford to hire the trainee doctors due to financial pressure on the public kitty.

The Kenyan health sector, which doctors say is underfunded and understaffed, is routinely beset by strikes.

Talks between the two sides aimed at ending the ongoing strike have so far not borne any deal and other health workers, such as clinical officers, have also joined the doctors in the strike.

“The strike will take as long as it takes the government to wake up,” Onyango Ndong’a, chairman of KMPDU’s branch in the western city of Kisumu, said on Citizen Television ahead of the rallies by the doctors.

The doctors have held a number of protests in the streets of the capital and other major cities since the strike began.

For right now and until Ruto wakes up to take the health of Kenyans seriously here is what Kenyans face in their public hospitals.

Kenyan doctors' strike over pay and training extends into third week, in Nairobi

The consequences have been dire. In the eastern county of Tharaka Nithi, an area member of parliament was quoted by the Standard newspaper as saying the one-year-old daughter of one of his constituents had died due to a lack of healthcare arising from the strike. We have very sick Kenyans including those who need surgeries including cancer treatment lying in public hospital beds pretty much waiting to die because there are no doctors or surgeons to deal with their health needs. It is a cruel and inhumane way for our government to treat Kenyans.

Doctors’ strike: ODM critises state response to crisis, demands action
Doctors' strike: ODM critises state response to crisis, demands action

ODM leaders, led by opposition chief Raila Odinga, address a press conference at Capitol Hill in Nairobi on April 3, 2024.

The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has expressed deep concern over the ongoing doctors’ strike, criticizing the government’s “lacklustre’ response to a crisis with adverse effects on ordinary Kenyans.

ODM Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna, who read the party’s statement to the press following a meeting of their Central Management Committee, pointed out that the party has taken a firm stance, emphasising that immediate action is imperative.

“We see an equally pedestrian and dismissive approach to the doctors’ strike and its impact on ordinary Kenyans. There seems to be neither commitment nor capacity by the government to resolve the matter,” he told a press conference at Capitol Hill in Nairobi, which ODM leader Raila Odinga attended.

ODM asked the government to implement a 2021 court ruling which directed the Ministry of Health and the 47 county governments to pay the basic salary as per the agreed, signed, and registered Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of 2017–2022.

The bigger picture here is that if Raila was not involved in this AUC process and was fully engaged in local and national politics in Kenya, Azimio would be on the streets with the doctors demanding action from the government to end the strike and hundreds of thousands of Kenyans would be out there and Ruto and his incompetent healthcare CS and other administrators would be on the ropes now and running to the table to deal with KMPDU and resolve this really harmful lack of heath services in our public hospitals.

Opposition leaders in Kenya like Kalonzo Musyoka and Opiyo Wandayi have done a good job putting pressure of the government to deal with the striking doctors or face the consequences and that is a good thing for Kenyans that there are politicians out there ready to fight for them and face the negligent government.

Ruto Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha has been a complete embarrassment for the whole country. She is thoroughly incompetent and very dismissive of healthcare services for Kenyans. Her message to Kenyans who need healthcare has been that they can go to hell because she is too busy attending funerals and doing endless press meetings to condemn and belittle doctors.

It took Wycliffe Oparanya of Azimio to put her where she belongs telling her the doctors are actually well trained and educated professionals working for Kenyans and for their country, something Susan Nakhumicha has no clue about. Right now Kenya politicians in the opposition are getting ready for action against the worst CS for Health Kenya has ever seen.

Stop embarrassing yourself by fighting doctors, they are more educated than you – OPARANYA to Health CS SUSAN NAKHUMICHA

“These doctors’ issues must be addressed. 

“You don’t threaten people who work in government facilities by day, and later report to their private stations where they make more money. 

“The CS should know she’s dealing with chaps who scored A and A-. 

“They are clever than her, I don’t know what she got,” said Oparanya.

MP Babu Owino To File Impeachment Motion Against CS Nakhumicha
MP Babu Owino to file impeachment motion against CS Nakhumicha

Embakasi East Member of Parliament, Babu Owino has written to the National Assembly speaker of his intention to move an impeachment motion against Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha. 

He claims the motion, which has already received the support of 111 MPs, is based on two grounds: gross violation of the constitution and incompetence. 

According to Owino, the doctors’ strike, which began on March 15th, has crippled Kenya’s healthcare system and denied scores of citizens their basic right to healthcare. 

“As a result of the doctors’ strike, a majority of Kenyans’ right to life as well as the right to the highest attainable standard of health has been grossly violated,” the notice of motion reads in part. 

“Since the strike began on 15th  March 2024, scores of Kenyans have been unable to access medical care, and in some dire cases, some have even lost their lives.”

The Embakasi East Legislator, speaking at a joint press conference with the KMPDU, stated that if the government does not listen to the striking doctors, MPs will join the industrial action.

Now lets deal with the issues at stake for this costly lack of a deal for Kenyan doctors.

KMPDU SG Davji Atellah during protests in Nairobi on Thursday, February 29, 2024. PHOTO/ Courtesy

One thing we know is that KMPDU has clearly stated their reasons for talking the strike action after the CS for Health abandoned the CBA deal signed in 2017 and makes the ridiculous claims that the CBA is dead and the government doesn’t have to pay and then refusing to give contracts to medical interns who provide 40% of healthcare services in our public hospitals and health centres. Finally after realizing that their position makes no sense the Ruto government is grudgingly agreeing that they will provide contracts to interns but keep bungling about everything.

The real big issue for healthcare for Kenya is that in the Kenyan constitution, health services have been devolved to the counties who employ and pay doctors and other staff as well as providing everything necessary to keep the hospitals working.

Why then does the national government keep a big part of the health budget. Koskei the Health boss at State House declared this week that the government is providing Sh. 2.4 billion to help solve the problem.

When they want to abandon Kenyans and trash healthcare services government officials like CS Susan Nakhumicha and Dr. Amoth threaten Kenyans by yelling at the doctors that they are employees of the counties and the national government has nothing to do with them. Why then is the Ruto government keeping so much of the healthcare budget for the country?

Thursday, March 28, 2024 – The Council of Governors chairperson Anne Waiguru has threatened to take drastic measures, including sacking if doctors do not call off the strike and report to work immediately

At the same time we heard governors like Anne Waiguru shouting at doctors that the county governments are going to fire them because they are their employees. The same governors everyday are begging Ruto and his government to release budgeted money to counties which many times never happens.

So who exactly between the national and county governments are holding the money for the health budget? From what Kenyans can see the health budget is like a lottery for politicians and they have been stealing everything including the NHIF money and they have a new one where workers will contribute to and find it very hard to get their money paying the hospital bills.

The first thing our M.Ps need to do when they take the doctors strike to parliament is streamline the funding system for healthcare in Kenya because that is one of the most important things for every Kenyan. Once the overall budget is presented to the MPs then they have to determine how much of that budget is allocated to the counties and how much is retained by the national government.

After that is determined then the MPs have to determine what percentage of health services are paid for by the counties what does the national government pay. If 90% of the healthcare services are provided by the counties and 10% provided by the national government then that is how the budget should be allocated. That is basic common sense. The national government cannot hang on to billions of the health budget while paying for nothing and offering no services.

Kenyans understand how parliament under the William Ruto regime is a rubber stamp institution for Ruto but at least for healthcare it would be sensible for MPs to sort this out. Every Kenyan needs healthcare and when doctors go on strike it affects all Kenyans. The MPs should at least for once in the case of healthcare put their political childish games out of the way and solve this problem for Kenyans.

Let me give my fellow Kenyans a healthcare model we should look at and frame within our political and national circumstances. This is the healthcare model established in 1961 and up to now no single Canadian Prime Minister would dare touch it unless they want to be physically thrown out of office.

Care Model Tommy Douglas Envisoned

In 2004, the CBC surveyed Canadians to see who would take the title of “The Greatest Canadian.” The winner was former Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas. Douglas is widely, and correctly viewed as the founder of socialized health care in Canada.

His selection speaks not only to the dramatic impact he has had on this country, but just how much Canadians value health care. I will dispense with calling it “free health care” because that just isn’t true. Our tax dollars pay for it. But those dollars are supposed to provide care for all those who need it.

Tommy Douglas, the Greatest Canadian, and the founder Medicare.

This healthcare system had one objective which could not be compromised under all circumstances and that is the right of every Canadian to have access to healthcare. So the federal government in its budget must allocate a certain amount for healthcare money for each of the eight provinces in Canada and once allocated when the budget is set up the money must only be used for healthcare by the provinces.

One of the rules of the Canada healthcare funding system in Canada is that it is based on the population of each province. Canada has some very tiny promises with fewer people and some huge provinces which are like countries. They cannot all get the same amount for healthcare and that is what Canadians agreed on.

For 63 years every person who wants to be the Prime Minister of Canada the first thing they do is go all over the country assuring everybody that they will never mess with the healthcare budget. It has worked wonders. In Toronto where I live everybody has a provincial health card in our case it is called Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP).With that card I can into into any hospital even the most prestigious and all they need is my health card and all my healthcare needs are provided. There are no private hospitals in the whole country.

When you are employed your employer has an obligation to provide you with health insurance. That is used to pay for medications, for dental care and for buying optical services. The rest is free for everybody because it is paid for by the government that gets billed from your OHIP card and Canadians go to the same hospitals whether you are a cashier at McDonalds or a cabinet minister up to the Prime Minister of Canada. That is what makes Canada different from the USA where people spend half their income on healthcare.

Kenyans are now calling for action against the incompetent Ruto cabinet members as Kenyans are getting fed up. It is about time. These regime thinks they can treat Kenyans like we are idiots and there is nothing we can do about it because they are in power.

NCCK Calls For The Resignation Of CS Nakhumicha, Murkomen And Linturi
NCCK calls for the resignation of CS Nakhumicha, Murkomen and Linturi

In Kenya the 2010 constitution health services model gives Kenya an opportunity to develop our own unique health system that meets the needs of the population and it starts with setting up a good health budget and allocating that money to the countries with very strict legal and financial management systems. We have not even bothered to try doing that 13 years since that model was established.

It is time for the politicians and healthcare providers to get to work and sort that out. In Kenya we should have all the healthcare budget for the counties given out after each national budget and before the county gets healthcare money the next year they have to provide to parliament an audited record of how the previous health money was used. The audit should be done through the office of Kenya’s Auditor General.

For now it is time for Azimio to give William Ruto and his cronies an ultimatum to solve the healthcare problem and get the doctors back to work by Monday April 8, 2024 next week or Azimio will join the doctors in the streets.

The action can start in Nairobi where Kenyans will come out in unprecedented numbers to fight for their health services and Raila Odinga does not have to be there to bring Kenyans out because they will come and to let Ruto know that time for fooling around with public healthcare is over.

Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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