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Hundreds of Kenyan doctors protest in the streets as national strike enters second week

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NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Hundreds of Kenyan doctors protested in the streets Friday demanding better pay and working conditions in an ongoing nationwide strike that has entered its second week.

The doctors carried placards and chanted against the Kenyan government, saying it had failed to implement a raft of promises, including a collective bargaining agreement signed in 2017 after a 100-day strike during which people died from lack of care.

Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union Secretary-General Dr. Davji Bhimji said the strike will continue until all the demands are met.

“We have nothing else to lose but the chains of poverty and distress that we’ve been having,” he said.

The standoff has left thousands of Kenyans without much-needed public health services.

Health Minister Susan Nakhumicha on Wednesday said she had instructed two top referral hospitals to recruit doctors to replace those taking part in the national strike.

Bhimji said the hiring of new doctors to replace those on strike would not settle the underlying labor concerns that caused the strike.

“I’m very sure those doctors cannot run those hospitals because those terms are quite exploitative and demeaning,” he said.

The doctors on Thursday stopped providing emergency services at public hospitals as they escalated the strike despite a court order calling for talks between the union and the Health Ministry.

Kenya’s head of the Public Service, Felix Kosgei, met late Thursday with union officials and various ministries and said the government is willing to implement the collective bargaining agreement, but in phases due to financial constraints.

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