The medical community has expressed profound concerns following a recent communication from the Ministry of Health regarding the placement of medical interns prompting a response to the perceived unilateral decision.
In a statement on 12th February the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists & Dentists Union (KMPDU) secretary General, Davji Bhimji Atellah stated that a meeting held between KMPDU and Ministry of Health had resolved that the new cohort of interns would be posted by the end of February 2024.
“The crux of our apprehension lies in the unilateral decision to alter prior agreements, an action that appears incongruent with the resolutions reached during discussions on January 22, 2024.
“We demand that all medical interns be posted by the end of February 2024 as agreed between the Ministry of Health and KMPDU on 22nd February, 2023,” the Secretary General said.
Davji Bhimji also refuted claims of KMPDU holding meetings with the Ministry of Health and reaching solutions.
“We wish to clarify that no recent meetings with the Ministry have taken place, prompting skepticism about the legitimacy of the communique and its alignment with previous agreements,” he noted.
He further said that the decision by the ministry to unilaterally vary the intern posting agreement is met with strong opposition.
“This move seems to undermine the resolutions established in January and challenges the integrity of the entire process,” he said.
The Ministry of Health earlier stated that it held a meeting with representatives of the doctors awaiting Internship postings, where it was resolved that the Ministry posted 4, 129 interns in the year 2023/2024 a period ending 31 June 2024.
Medical Interns Strike
KMPDU response comes after graduate doctors staged demonstrations outside the Ministry of Health Headquarters at Afya House, Nairobi on 12th February demanding an audience with Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha.
One of their top grievances was the delay in being posted as medical interns, pharmacists, and dentists despite having graduated and met other mandatory requirements.
Muinde Nthusi, chairman of the Association of Medical Students of the University of Nairobi, said graduates who have completed their rigorous medical training but are yet to be placed in crucial internship positions face significant challenges finding work.
Nthusi, himself a recent graduate, noted that some have waited up to seven months, a circumstance which he noted ultimately disrupts their career progression and affects the delivery of healthcare services.
“Interns play a crucial role in providing frontline care to patients. They need to gain essential practical experience so they can support overstretched healthcare systems,” he said.
The procedure for posting interns is detailed in the National Guidelines for Internship Training of Medical and Dental Officer Interns (2019).
“Every medical officer intern shall be required to undergo an internship training program for a period of twelve months (12), and an additional one calendar month of paid leave,” reads the guideline in part.