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Governor Orengo: I support doctors’ strike

As the delivery of health services across the country faces threats due to the ongoing doctors’ strike, Siaya Governor, James Orengo, states his support for the medics’ protests.

The Siaya County boss has expressed his advocacy for doctors’ welfare, emphasising the need for the health practitioners’ Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) to be fulfilled.

The nationwide doctors’ strike, now in its fourth week, was recently joined by clinical officers, paralysing the issuance of health services in public hospitals.

“Even though I am a governor, I stand with the doctors,” Governor Orengo said in a video that has since gone viral online.

His declaration seemingly contradicts the stance of the Council of Governors (CoG), with some governors threatening to sack striking doctors in their counties.

Before assuming office as Siaya Governor, Mr Orengo, a lawyer by profession, represented doctors in court during past protests when the medics’ union bosses found themselves in legal trouble while picketing.

Mr Orengo previously served as the Siaya Senator.

He recalled his efforts in defending the doctors’ union officials in court, including the former Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General, Dr Ouma Oluga.

“I want to say, as James Orengo, four years ago I appeared in court to fight for the doctors when some of their union officials, including Ouma Oluga, were arrested and jailed for 10 days. Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Current Makueni Governor) and I undertook negotiations between the national government and doctors to resolve the issues they faced,” reminisced the Siaya County boss.

Mr Orengo stated that the ongoing conflict results from the government’s failure to address doctors’ pleas and resolve their issues.

“You cannot talk about mama mboga (the ordinary citizens) seeking medical attention when they cannot access hospitals due to unresolved doctors’ issues. Without a doubt, we assert that the government must address these issues,” he explained.

President William Ruto, on Sunday, April 7, 2024, stated that his government would not bow to the doctors’ demands.

The head of state mentioned that the government lacks funds, and thus doctors should adjust to the country’s financial limitations.

However, he pledged to employ over 1,500 intern doctors who have completed one year of practice.

Employment of interns and better remuneration are among the ultimatums set by KMPDU to be met.

The union’s Secretary General, Dr Davji Attellah, insists that the doctors will not resume work until their grievances are addressed.

Negotiations between KMPDU and the Ministry of Health have so far failed to yield results.

Governor Orengo has promised to provide legal representation for doctors in court, including hiring advocates, in case the union faces lawsuits.