It is Day 3 of the on-going doctors’ strike by members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) and despite their willingness to try and avert a nation-wide health crisis through negotiation and mutual settlement, the government has decided to play hard ball with a profession that literally holds the lives of Kenyans in its hands.
Many have argued that the Constitution is on the side of the doctors’ two fold: firstly it protects their right to take industrial action and secondly the State is under a positive obligation to protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of all Kenyans both from a health care perspective as well as from a general human rights perspective.
However, constitutional rights are not absolute especially where there are competing rights such as the right of the general public to the delivery of essential services, which arguably would include health care services.
Before we discuss these weighty matters of legality, let’s start from the beginning.
Many Kenyans have been wondering whether the current government is serious about pledges they articulated to the electorate.
For the majority of the past fifty or so years since independence, the KANU party had been in control and was described as a “dictatorial kind of party” that never listened to the peoples problems. The land clashes, embezzlement of funds, the political assassinations, the land grabbing and the murder of clergymen were all characteristics of the former regime.
Fast forward to the 2002 general elections where the NARC party won a landslide victory on a platform of economic reforms, adoption and implementation of a new constitution within one hundred days of getting into power, free primary education and the controversial issue of creating five hundred thousand jobs annually. To their credit, at least they have fulfilled their pledge of providing free primary education, which has given impoverished children a lifeline. But that seems to be all there is to it.
The current government doesn’t seem to have changed much from the previous one. In fact, most of the same people who were in KANU are now in the ruling party. Financial scandals caused by the governments appointment of old guards are raising eyebrows among the youth. Most of them find it unworthy to study when their credentials will get them nothing but a first place in the unemployment line as they watch doddering old men take over the places that are rightfully theirs. It is for this reason that they are asking themselves, “Is there any hope for us in the future?” Continue reading →