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Kenyan doctors resign in large numbers citing poor pay, other concerns

Kenyan doctors resign in large numbers citing poor pay, other concerns

The quality of healthcare services in public health facilities is likely to be adversely affected following recent mass resignations by doctors across the counties.

According to Victor Ng’ani, the chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, pharmacist and Dentist Union (KMPDU), at least 200 doctors have recently relinquished their duties in public hospitals.

“The figures are not definite since the data is scattered across all the counties but Embu and Coast are the hardest hit”, he said.

N’gani maintains that poor pay, the slashing of allowances and salary delays, are the reasons that have forced doctors to exit from the public health sector.


A shortage of doctors and nurses is reported to pose the greatest threat to health services in Kenya. The public health sector has been grappling with a shortage of medics of up to 20,000 doctors and between 40,000 to 60,000 nurses.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a doctor for every 1000 people but in Kenya, with a population of over 40 million people, we hardly have 3,300 doctors in our public health centres, i.e., one for every 12,000 people.

For instance, it was reported that as of last year June, Kenyatta National Hospital ought to have seven doctors in place at casualty section, but rarely has more than two.


Last month, following the reports of the high rates of resignations by doctors from public medical facilities for the more lucrative private institutions, the chairman of the Central Organisation of Trade Unions (COTU) Francis Atwoli asked the government to intervene in the medical crisis that would result to a dire shortage of doctors in the country.

“It is important that the Government reviews its position on addressing the terms and conditions of service for our medical doctors with a view to retaining them in Government employment lest as a country we are in danger since most Kenyans’ incomes would only allow them to seek medication in public hospitals as the cost of seeking the same from private hospitals and individuals is beyond their means,” Atwoli said.

According to a past report by WHO that sought to project the size of the future global demand and supply of physicians to year 2015, the target date for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Kenya will need 24,000 physicians by 2015 but will be short of this target by about 18,000 physicians.

Kenya’s public healthcare has been for a long time reported to be on a sick bed, and the looming further shortage of medics will only worsen matters.


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