Kenyans can now breathe a sigh of relief after doctors on Tuesday called off the 100-day strike that has paralyzed services in public hospitals countrywide.
The government and union officials signed a deal to address pay and other issues in dispute, said Dr Ouma Oluga, secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
Doctors had pushed for the implementation of a 2013 collective bargaining agreement that committed the government to increase pay, restore dilapidated public health facilities and consistently train doctors, among other issues.
The CBA provides that KMPDU officials will have authority to access information held by the Health ministry, right to meet doctors at their place of work and that the officials be granted leave upon request.
A statement by religious leaders read on their behalf by Catholic Bishop Alfred Rotich indicated that Kenyans suffered during the period of the industrial action and it should never be repeated.
"We are happy that the union has put to an end the strike".
"It is regrettable that it took so long".
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"This country should not experience such a painful process again". Earlier, seven union officials were jailed for a month for contempt of court for not ending the strike.
The KMPDU which has been demanding a 300 percent salary increase for its members as agreed in the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) says the lowest paid doctor should earn 3,450 US dollars while the highest should be earning 9,450 dollars. "We hope the country will not experience such a thing again", said Oluga after signing the deal.
Kenya's doctors also went on strike in 2012 to protest the bad state of public health care.
The return to work agreement will see doctors receive an additional $560 (£460) to $700 a month in allowances.
"We now call upon all the parties to move with speed to expedite the provisions of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and the Return To Work Formula (RTWF) and ensure that factors that led to the strike are addressed to avoid a recurrence in the future".
They further agreed that the county governments and KMPDU shall conclude the recognition agreement based on a model prepared by both parties during the mediation process by the Law Society of Kenya, the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and religious leaders.
"We recognise the attention this industrial strike has required of our leaders in the National and County Governments".