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Kenya: Doctors ordered to call off strike, or face prison

Posted 10:31 a.m. Thursday

— A Kenyan court Thursday ordered the doctors' union to halt a state doctors' strike that has caused near paralysis of the health sector or face a month in jail.

At least 5,000 doctors working at Kenya's public hospitals are on a strike now entering it second month.

Officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union have two weeks to end the work stoppage but after that and "if the strike will still be on, you will be arrested from wherever you are and escorted to prison," Justice Hellen Wasilwa said.

The union rejected the court's ruling to call off the strike, saying it will not negotiate under threat. Dozens of Kenyans are believed to have died from a lack of medical care since the strike started in early December. The union had previously rejected Wasilwa's orders to call off the strike. "We shall not relent," said Dr. Ouma Oluga, the secretary general of the KMPPDU. Oluga said if they are imprisoned they will offer the best medical services to prisoners.

Doctors want the government to implement a collective bargaining agreement the union signed with the government in 2013. The agreement raises their salaries by 180 percent. Currently doctors earn an average basic salary of $400 compared to a Kenya lawmaker who earns nearly $14,000 a month.

Despite the suffering many Kenyans are experiencing many of them support the doctor's strike. Sharon Andisi,23, was turned away by Kenya's only public maternity hospital Monday moments from giving birth. She ended up giving birth in the reception area of a private clinic should least afford. But despite her painful and costly experience she said she still supports the doctors' strike. Many Kenyans have shown support for the strike through social media.

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