The government is mandated to guarantee and/or enable the right to life, a right which begins at conception. The Constitution of the Republic of Kenya, 2010 provides so, in Article 26 (1). The same constitution provides in Article 43 (1) that every person has the right to highest attainable standard of health, which includes the right to health care services, including reproductive health care.
The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995 is not any different either. In its National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy, specifically, General Social and Economic Objective XIV, it provides that “the state shall endeavour to fulfil the fundamental rights of all Ugandans to social justice and economic development and shall in particular, ensure that all Ugandans enjoy rights and opportunities and access to health services.” In Article 17, it provides that every citizen has a duty to create and protect a clean and healthy environment, and, in Article 39, provides that every Ugandan has a right to a clean and healthy environment.
Other legislations, such as Kenya’s Chapter 253, or Medical Practitioners and Dentists Act and The Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologists Act emphasise, and Uganda’s Chapter 272, or The Medical And Dental Practitioners Act emphasise qualifications, legibility for registration, licensing of private practitioners and penalties for the fraudulently procuring registration.
The status quo
However, recent events in both countries have illustrated to us that, amongst others, both governments in both countries are not really interested in applying themselves to their own, respective legislations. The government, in most countries, is noted as the best or the biggest employer. It is, therefore, rather quite disappointing that some of its most important employees have been reduced to striking.
2016 has been both an engaging and consuming year for medical practitioners on either sides of the border. In Kenya, doctors have either been teargased, or have threatened to shut private hospitals, or have had to abandon their patients (like that sick orphan baby), or have had to desert public hospitals during their ongoing strike.
In Uganda, intern and postgraduate doctors in notable towns like Mbarara, Kampala (Mulago Hospital interns), and Jinja (Jinja Hospital medical interns) have gone on strike either over unpaid allowances or pay deductions.
All that doctors are asking for is not so much – really, and it has been proven to work.
Previously, at least in the case of Uganda, strikes by medical interns have been thwarted by paying them as requested. An attempt at reviewing the duration taken to qualify as medical practitioners, and encouraging less regulation while they are attaining their practicing certificates would not only motivate the practitioners, but help hasten the availability of medical officers and/or practitioners in the medical facilities where they are most needed.
It is equally vital that governments, as they have the most and best resources available to them, construct as much as possible medical related infrastructures across the country. The health centres and/or facilities can and should be as mobile as possible and well stocked with the basic and necessary medical supplies for the benefit of the visiting or visited patients in any and all communities wherever they are. The presence of the medical officers there would go a long way to improving the doctor to patient interaction.
Work with them
Apparently, the issues of medical practitioners are as vast as their solutions. They are inexhaustible. It is thus necessary that all responsible stakeholders see to it that they, firstly, listen to them and, equally, provide satisfying, actionable answers accordingly. Legally speaking, there is no possible way how the aforementioned rights and responsibilities are to be achieved when the most important soldiers in this quest for healthier lives and environments are out on the streets waging war against equally troubled police officers.