Crisis is looming in Kenya's health sector as clinical officers issued a 48-hour strike notice on Tuesday, after the council of governors backtracked on a return to work formula.
The council of governors rejected the New Year's Day deal that ended a 26-day strike by clinical officers, saying demands by health workers are unrealistic and cannot be met owing to harsh economic times occasioned by the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement issued on Monday, the governors said the risk allowance that requires a minimum increment of between 500 percent to 650 percent to only two cadres has a ripple effect on other cadres in the health sector and also requires Salaries and Remuneration Commission approval and availability of resources for sustainability.
"Conversion of contracts to permanent and pensionable requires astronomical resources that have not been factored in the current budget and the next financial year," the council said.
In response to the council of governors, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers on Tuesday said the council of governors had been participating in the reconciliation process that realized the return to work formula for clinical officers by the multi-agency committee under the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection.
"The council of governors are being insincere and unrealistic to say the least, that the return to work formula to be signed at the individual counties yet again acknowledges the ongoing reconciliation at the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection," George Gibore, the general secretary of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, said in a news conference.
Gibore said all matters of the agreed return to work formula are common across the counties and can only be addressed from a central point, including the finalization of the collective bargaining agreements.
"The health services are not properly coordinated in our country since devolution and needs an emergency surgery to cure the unending health sector problems," Gibore said.
The notice comes even as the country continues to record increased coronavirus infection cases. As of Tuesday, coronavirus had infected 97,127 people in Kenya and killed 1,690.
Due to flouting of health protocols during the Christmas and New Year festivities, there have been fears that infection cases may continue to rise. This is coupled with the reopening of schools.
To control spread of the virus, on Saturday President Uhuru Kenyatta announced revised restrictions, including extension of curfew, banning of public gatherings and events, apart from funerals and weddings that can be attended by a maximum of 150 people.
Kenyatta also directed schools to ensure that they have adequate handwashing stations corresponding to their student population, in line with guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.