400 new Kenyan doctors to be sent home
Mwaniki M, Siringi S: Nation Media
Some 400 newly qualified doctors in public hospitals will be sacked next week in a Government policy shift that abolishes automatic employment for the health workers. The unprecedented move, to be effected on December 31, is likely to deal a deadly blow to crucial health programmes. It also runs counter to the Narc Government's policy of creating 500,000 new jobs annually. Health care services in public health facilities are already suffering from an acute shortage of doctors and other health workers. Previously, the ministry absorbed the doctors on permanent and pensionable terms after they successfully completed their one-year internship. The latest move is also likely to compromise the fight against Aids, malaria and other chronic diseases. The doctors (interns) to be retrenched have been working in public and district hospitals in various parts of the country for the past one year. Contacted on phone, Dr Nyangito confirmed the policy change, saying new doctors will no longer be assured of automatic employment. The two public universities - Nairobi and Moi - that train the professionals were currently ejecting out more doctors annually than the Government could absorb, he said. It means the doctors will be treated like other professions, including teachers where only available positions are advertised annually for filling. Dr Nyangito explained the budgetary constraints within the ministry meant that the automatic job assurance for new doctors be abolished. He revealed that the Government plans to advertise jobs for 160 doctors in January, and asked those kicked out of the payroll to apply. Yet that could mean that 240 of them will still remain jobless. Dr Nyangito explained that the ministry's priority was to offer attachments to doctors upon graduation. In a circular letter dated November 6 2006 signed Dr Nyangito and addressed to all provincial medical bosses and medical superintendents, the PS says: "As you may be aware, the ministry now has a fixed establishment for interns. The result is that all interns are engaged for only one year after which they exit the service to create room for the incoming ones". The petition is also copied to the Civil Service boss Francis Muthaura, the director of personnel management, the director of medical services and the chairman of the Kenya Medical Association.