Union Officials Allege Dr. Patrick Amoth as the Biggest Hurdle to Ending the Doctor’s Strike

Dr Amoth

Dr. Patrick Amoth, the Acting Director General of the Ministry of Health, is currently facing severe backlash from officials of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) who are holding him responsible for obstructing the negotiations aimed at resolving the ongoing nationwide strike that has been ongoing for a month.

According to the union’s Deputy Secretary General Dennis Miskellah, Dr. Amoth by virtue of his office has been misadvising the Health CS Susan Nakhumicha with no clear lead to end the strike.

“Dr. Amoth is the biggest stumbling block in this strike. He’s constantly misleading the CS Nakhumicha and the government.” He said.

He goes further to throw a punch at Dr. Amoth whom he prays for an end to his stint in the ministry, “I hope his “acting” soon ends because at this rate he is going to turn the ministry into a circus.Even on obvious issues he misleads….such a shame!”

“The guy is a joke,nowonder he has been an ‘actor’ for 5 yrs. Let him stick to being a technical advisor on clinical matters and let waziri and her team make the right decision! He can’t keep on fighting drs.And he should know his successor is already known.” Dr. Miskellah added.

Dr. Arthur Ajwang echoed his statement in accusing the Acting DG fir betraying his colleagues, “he wants to keep his position by betraying his colleagues the Doctors. He’s being utterly selfish to bury everyone else in order to impress his boss to maintain him at his current position.”

Dr. Amoth vs Davji

During a live Interview with Citizen TV earlier this month, Dr. Amoth sharply differed with KMPDU’s Secretary General Davji Atellah on the government’s claim of meeting the medics’ 2017 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

He went on to lightly say that after the Treasury had disbursed the funds to doctors, union members currently owe the Ministry Ksh.81,000.

“We have paid outstanding salary arrears…the matter has been sorted out by the National government and the KMPDU members at the National Government money has been paid to the last cent. If I talk to the people in the accounts in the ministry, it is the Union members that owe the ministry Ksh.81,000,” said Amoth.

KMPDU boss who was on a call at the time of the interview however rebutted the Director General’s remarks instead saying that no union member had received any money. He said the medics owe the Ministry a total of about Ksh.3 billion since 2017.

“There are no payments that have been done by the government regarding the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) of 2017/2021 although we have had discussions and meetings on the whole of 2023,” Dr Atellah stated.

In a rebuttal, Dr Amoth dismissed Atellah’s claim insisting that the funds had been deposited in doctors’ accounts and that he (Atellah), being a union leader in Nakuru was in no capacity to confirm the payment in his bank account.

“Davji is not an employee of the National Government so you don’t expect us to be able to pay him when he works for Nakuru County. The members have received the remuneration,” Amoth insisted.

Amoth in support of the reduction of medical interns salary

In addressing the demand made by doctors for medical interns to be paid over Ksh. 200,000, Dr. Amoth has downplayed its feasibility due to the government’s financial constraints.

He pointed out that such a significant increase in intern salaries would not be feasible given the current budgetary limitations. Dr. Amoth highlighted that neighboring countries typically pay medical interns between Ksh. 45,000 and Ksh. 70,000.

He explained, “This batch of 3759 will require a budget of Ksh. 4.8 billion, but remember every year doctors graduate. So the challenge we have is that every year this figure is going to increase. This figure is also not arbitrary from SRC; we have also looked at other jurisdictions.”

“Nigeria pays their interns an equivalent of Ksh.70,000, South Africa pays their interns Ksh.208,000, Rwanda pays about Ksh.50,000, Tanzania pays Ksh.66,000, Uganda is currently paying Ksh.50,000, Ghana which is in the same league as us pays their interns an equivalent of Ksh.45,000,” said Dr Amoth.

One of the key grievances expressed by the doctors has been the government’s failure to promptly post medical interns, who are a vital part of the healthcare workforce, further straining an already burdened system.

Despite the Ministry’s stance, KMPDU has remained steadfast in its demand for better compensation for interns. They argue that competitive remuneration is essential to attract and retain skilled medical professionals, which is crucial for delivering quality healthcare services to the Kenyan population.

Amoth it must not be forgotten has been sitting in the negotiating table with the doctors and government officials.

Acting DG for five years

Dr. Amoth has been holding the acting Director General’s post for five years now something that has raised questions.

The DG position was re-advertised by Public Service Commission (PSC) last month throwing out more questions as to why they just couldn’t confirm Dr. Amoth.

The law stipulates that one is assumed to be confirmed if they’ve held the position for more than six months.

Nakhumicha again downplayed claiming that the appointment of leaders in the health sector has been crooked since the provisions stipulated in the Health Act have not always been observed.

She therefore noted that the advertisement by the PSC is lawfully valid and it does not sideline Dr. Amoth.

Nakhumicha said that the advertisement should instead provide an avenue for Amoth to rightfully and officially secure the position.

“Amoth is applying as well and I have confidence, given the experience that he has he should emerge as the best unless he fumbles during the interviews,” noted Nakhumicha.

“He has great experience he should be ahead of the pack.”

The Health Ministry boss added that she wanted to appoint Amoth and other acting officers in the ministry when she took office but her “hands are tied by the law.”

Dr. Amoth when he accompanied CS Nakhumicha doing round checks at Kenyatta Hospital on March 19, 2024 while the doctors are still on strike.

In March 2022, the Cabinet Secretary for Health Mutahi Kagwe was also summoned by senators to explain why Amoth was yet to be fully appointed as the Director General.

According to Kagwe, PSC delayed approval of the proposed organisational structure and staff establishment in order to fill the position.

He is a graduate of the University of Nairobi’s Medical School and has a Master in Obstetrics and Gynaecology from the same university.

He also holds a Diploma in Health Systems Management from Galilee College in Israel.

Dr. Amoth is the immediate former President of WHO Executive Board based in Geneva, Switzerland.

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