We’re “witnessing misery of the sick”: Kenya’s Catholic Bishops Urge Government to Address Doctors’ Protracted Strike

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB). Credit: KCCB

Members of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) are calling on the Kenyan government to “speedily” address the concerns of doctors in the East African country where health services remain paralyzed owing to a protracted strike of the medics.

Through the strike, which is in its fourth week, doctors in Kenya are seeking better pay as per the terms of collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) signed in 2017. The doctors signed the contentious CBA with the Ministry of Health on 30 June 2017, and with county governments on 6 July 2017.

Addressing the press on Thursday, April 11, KCCB members said, “We ask the Government to speedily address the legitimate concerns of the doctors.”

“Our health provision is in the hands of the medical fraternity,” the Catholic Bishops said and added, “We ask both parties to seek dialogue and settle the matter once and for all.”

Expressing optimism that dialogue is capable of addressing the stalemate between the government and the doctors, the Bishops said, “The situation is deplorable and we continue witnessing the misery of the sick.”


“Many have died and many are deteriorating in their sickness because of the current standoff,” the Bishops said while recognizing the doctors’ right to seek justice and equity.

However, Kenya’s Catholic Bishops recognize the uniqueness of the medical fraternity which they say should be vigilant when deciding on strikes “as it touches on human life most closely”.

They said, “While we believe there may be merit-worthy demands, we have always urged the doctors and medical practitioners to place the life and interests of the patients first. We still do the same. The life of a human person should never be used as a bargaining currency.”

“Every life is worth more than any financial or employment gain. We urge the government on one hand, and doctors and clinical officers on the other, to seek a working arrangement that does not put the lives of the patients at risk, so that lives are not lost or threatened even during the industrial action,” the Bishops explain.

The KCCB members found it regrettable that the plight of the people has been worsened by the inability of faith-based health facilities to fully respond to the crisis as they have been crippled by the National insurer debt.

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The Catholic Bishops urged the government to pay debts owed to the faith-based organizations, which according to the Bishops, own several health facilities in the country, to enable them to provide the necessary care to the sick.

“We have on various occasions raised to the Government the very unjust fact that Faith-based Hospitals are owed huge amounts by the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF),” the Bishops said.

They added, “As of now, this has accrued to over 2 Billion Kenya shillings. The effect is that most of our hospitals are crippled and not able to operate optimally, and therefore offer services to the needy. In fact, many are now unable to procure medicines and pay salaries.”

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.