Kenyan doctors working in government hospitals began a countrywide strike on Monday over inadequate insurance benefits and lack of protective equipment while treating COVID-19 patients, their union said.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union said on Twitter late on Sunday that there had been no resolution of grievances raised over the last eight months.
“The Kenya government has neglected the Welfare, Safety & Health of health care workers,” the union said. “No provision of medical insurance, Workman injury benefits & Compensation & lack of adequate quality PPEs.”
“This greatly hampers the fight against #COVID19 in a country with an acute shortage of doctors,” it added.
Kenya reported 349 new cases of COVID-19 on Sunday, with 6 fatalities, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 94,500 and the number of deaths to 1,639, the health ministry said.
The virus has been spreading to rural areas where the public health system is creaking and limited intensive care units (ICU) are full, which has led to patients being turned away, medics told Reuters this month.
Nearly three quarters of Kenya’s ICU beds are in the two largest cities, Nairobi and Mombasa.
In August, doctors in most public hospitals in the capital Nairobi went on strike for a week to protest against delays in salary payments and lack of protective equipment when treating patients who may have COVID-19.
Doctors working in hospitals run by regional county governments have also been staging strikes off and on since March over similar grievances.
At least 14 doctors have died of the virus since the first coronavirus case in Kenya was confirmed in March, according to the doctors union. The strike had been due to start on Dec. 7 but was postponed for two weeks to give more time for talks with the government.