Kenyan medics withdraw minister membership amid escalating h

NAIROBI, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) -- Kenyans prepared for a midnight shutdown of all medical facilities Tuesday after the Kenya Medical Association (KMA), which represents 3,000 registered doctors, called for a walkout of members to protest the jailing of union leaders.

The Industrial Court sitting in Nairobi Monday ordered the jailing of seven key leaders of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) for failing to call off a strike by some 5,000 doctors working in state-owned hospitals.

The KMA said there would be no negotiations with the government as long as the KMPDU leaders remain in prison.

The KMA also announced the members would withdraw their services in all private hospitals and university teaching facilities for 48 hours starting Tuesday.

"We announce that all our members in Health Facilities and institutions shall not be offering any services for 48 hours' effective midnight today, and further instructions shall be issued should the doctors still be in jail at the expiry of this period," the KMA said in a statement Tuesday.

The doctors launched their strike on December 5, 2016 to press for the implementation of the 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

The collective Bargaining agreement remains the formal process for all professionals in Kenya to bargain for their salaries, allowances and working conditions. Public hospitals have been without doctors for nearly three months.

The Industrial Court Judge Hellen Wasilwa, who has been handling the case, called for the jailing of the leaders of the Union for failing to call off their strike.

The doctors have been demanding the release of pay rises of up to 300 percent, a new system of promotions and improved conditions of work at all public hospitals.

The KMA said it suspended the membership of the Cabinet Secretary for Health Cleopa Mailu, saying his role in worsening the medical crisis warranted the decisive stem to revoke his membership.

The KMA also withdrew the membership of the Principal Health Secretary Nicholas Muraguri saying his failure to negotiate with the doctors has partly contributed to the worsening health crisis.

KMA represents all the medical practitioners, dentists and pharmacists in Kenya.

The members of the professional association said they consulted extensively on the processes leading to the jailing the KMPDU leaders and took note the fact that the crisis in the health sector in the country continues in a state of paralysis due to the strike.

"Considering that the union leaders have been jailed for no criminal offence and further noting that we consider them prisoners of conscience, We ask that the court of appeal sets aside the current Judgment and further demand that the government takes all necessary steps to end the judicial circus to amicably resolve this crisis," the doctors body said.

The professional association said the medical, dental and pharmacist professions were under attack.

Meanwhile, the doctors and the members of a Senate Health Committee have called for the sacking of the health minister.

The Minister appeared before the health committee in the Senate on Tuesday, which asked for his resignation. The Senate Committee said the crisis would not be resolved unless the doctors left jail.

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