Article Text

Download PDFPDF

99:oral Rights perspective of a doctors’ strike in Kenya
  1. Stephen Muhudhia Ombok
  1. The Nairobi Hospital; Kenya


Objective In December 2011 doctors employed by the government of Kenya in public service went on strike. The strike involved total withdrawal of all services including emergency lifesaving treatment. The strike went on for a period of six weeksThis research seeks to critically examine the strike from a rights perspective to determine any justification or lack thereof.

Methodology The study is based on desktop and library materials. It examined the circumstances and contexts of the strike to enable an understanding of the status of health services and the nature of the demands by doctors. The obligations of the medical profession and ethical codes and rules of conduct for doctors were examined in relation to the strike. The right to health as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and international instruments were critically analyzed. The rights of doctors and patients were explored while obligations of the government, the doctors and patients were scrutinized.

Discussion Analysis of the reasons for the strikes and status of public health services revealed violations of the right of patients to health as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. From a rights perspective the doctors strike action was within their rights as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya 2010. However, harm resulting from suspension of emergency services provided an argument against moral justification of the strike.

Conclusion The doctors were within their rights to go on strike as provided for in the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and labour laws of Kenya. The government failed in their obligation to provide acceptable standard of healthcare considering the resources available. However, comprehensive justification of the strikes was difficult, considering the professional and ethical obligations of doctors to society and to patients.

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See: .

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.