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How Dennis Itumbi’s Facebook post scuttled doctors talks

Negotiations between doctors and the Ministry of Health stalled on Monday after a government official leaked details of the talks despite a gentleman’s agreement to maintain secrecy.

A source privy to the negotiations said a Facebook post by Director of Digital Communication in the Office of the President Dennis Itumbi angered the doctors.

Mr Itumbi posted to the effect that the government and the doctors’ representatives had agreed on “everything in the CBA except the salary” in the disputed 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The blogger went on to post: “They want the lowest-paid doctor to get Sh221,000 and the highest-paid Sh940,000 (Plus allowances goes to Sh1.2m). GOK is actually offering to pay doctors way better than those in private hospitals”.

The figures could not be verified as the CBA indicates that doctors want the lowest-paid doctor, an intern, paid a salary of between Sh325,000 and Sh342,770 and the highest-paid Sh852,180 to Sh946,000.


A source within the negotiating team said: “Talks have collapsed because of this (post); (Health principal secretary, Dr Nicholas) Muraguri is busy talking to bloggers.”

On Monday, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) officials held a closed-door meeting with government representatives.

The talks, which began on Friday, were held in the presence of mediators drawn from the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Decrying how hard it was to control such comments on the talks, a contact at KNCHR said such posts fuel discord, adding that “everybody is giving their own side of the story”.

LSK has seasoned mediators John Morris Ohaga and Njeri Kariuki on the panel that includes KNCHR chairperson Kagwiria Mbogori and Mr James Mang’erere.

Besides the unionists, the doctors are represented by Dr Alex Muturi, Dr Goody Gor, Dr Harvey Mulei and Dr Richard Mogeni.

The panel is co-chaired by Ms Mbogori and Mr Ohaga.

The Nation learnt that the panel managed to “agree on everything in the 2013 CBA except for the salary” and there was even a compromise on some of the contentious issues, such as training.