The Ministry of Health and the doctors’ union have clashed over the posting of medical interns.

Kenyan graduate medical students with placards (photo courtesy)

Kenyan graduate medical students with placards (photo courtesy)

This is after medical interns held demonstrations outside Afya House on Monday demanding that they be posted as per the requirement for compulsory experimental learning. While the ministry claims it held a meeting with the union and agreed that the interns would be posted from July 1, the union leadership says no such meeting took place.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union SG Davji Atellah said the last meeting between the union and the ministry was held on January 22. In the meeting, it was agreed that posting of all medical interns will be done in February with a follow-up meeting between the union and the PS expected to be held the following week. In an undated letter signed by the PS Medical Services Harry Kimtai, the ministry alleges it had held a meeting with doctors’ representatives where key resolutions were arrived at.

“The Ministry of Health today held a meeting with representatives of the doctors awaiting internship postings, where it was resolved that 2024/25 Financial Year financing year internship posting will be effective from July 1, 2024, upon completion of 2023/24 FY interns,” Kimtai said.

The letter further says it was agreed that the ministry would post all the 3,759 interns as per the lists submitted by various regulatory bodies.

“To address the challenges of internship programmes, the Ministry of Health will fast-track the national internship policy that is under review,” the PS said.

However, in a rejoinder, Atellah said no such meeting had taken place, and maintained that interns be posted by the end of February 2024 as agreed between the ministry and KMPDU on January 22.

We wish to clarify that no recent meetings with the Ministry have taken place, prompting scepticism about the legitimacy of the communique and its alignment with previous agreements. 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.” Atellah said.

On Monday, Association of Medical Students of the University of Nairobi (AMSUN) chairman Muinde Nthusi said graduates have completed their rigorous medical training but are yet to be placed in internship positions. As recent graduates of medical school in Kenya, we wish to draw attention to the systemic delays in the posting of medical, pharmacy, and dental interns by the Ministry of Health,” Nthusi said.

The AMSUN chair noted that many graduates are still awaiting placement in internship centers, up to seven months after graduation. Nthusi said the delays in posting the graduates not only disrupt their career progression but also have far-reaching consequences for healthcare delivery in Kenya.

By Janet Namalwa