Last week, patients nationwide found themselves stranded as doctors initiated a strike, leading to the disruption of vital medical services in numerous hospitals. The Ministry of Health acknowledged before Parliament that it lacks the funds to meet the demands of the doctors. During an appearance before the National Assembly Health Committee, Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha disclosed that the ministry is unable to fulfill its obligation to post over 3,000 intern doctors across the country, a key demand of the striking doctors. Nakhumicha informed the committee that the National Treasury has pledged to allocate the ministry Sh2 billion to address its financial commitments. However, she refrained from providing a specific timeline for the release of the funds, citing the Treasury’s delay in disbursing the money.

A source within the ministry revealed that approximately Sh3.7 billion was allocated to the Ministry of Health for the posting of interns in the 2023/24 financial year. An additional Sh2 billion was allocated but proved insufficient to cover the deficit due to the increased number of graduating doctors, resulting in a pending gap of Sh4.9 billion.

Meanwhile, doctors under the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) continued to disrupt healthcare services nationwide, demanding the posting of 3,759 intern doctors. Although the court temporarily suspended the doctors’ strike to facilitate negotiations, KMPDU Secretary General Dr. Davji Atellah affirmed that the strike would persist, citing the ministry’s perceived lack of commitment to addressing the interns’ issues.

A survey conducted in the city revealed reduced activity in various hospitals, with fewer doctors and patients present. Public health facilities across the country experienced widespread disruption of services as doctors refrained from reporting to work. In the Coast region, in-patient, theater, and clinic services were indefinitely suspended in several public health facilities, affecting patient care. Doctors in other regions, such as Rift Valley and Trans Nzoia, joined the strike, resulting in the compromise of specialized medical services in hospitals. However, some counties, like Nandi, witnessed normal activities in defiance of the strike calls.

The strike’s impact extended to Western region, where hospitals in Busia, Kakamega, Bungoma, and Vihiga counties faced paralysis of services, causing patients to seek alternative care in private facilities. In Bungoma, only a fraction of doctors reported to work at the referral facility, exacerbating the healthcare crisis. Similar disruptions were observed in Central and Nyanza regions, as striking doctors opted to serve patients in private clinics.