PSI condemns violent attack on Kenyan health union leader

Dr. Davji Bhimji Attellah, the General Secretary of PSI affiliate the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), was severely injured in the head by a fired projectile, most likely a teargas canister during a peaceful protest in Nairobi. He was taken to hospital.

PSI affiliate, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), had embarked on a peaceful protest to demand the release of funds allocated for the deployment of interns and payment of post-graduate fees, essential for the future of healthcare in Kenya.

Repressive actions by Kenyan authorities against the health workers resulted in KMPDU General Secretary Dr. Davji Bhimji Attellah suffering a severe head wound from a fired projectile, most likely a teargas canister. He was taken to hospital.

PSI General Secretary Daniel Bertossa said: 

“Unprovoked attacks on doctors taking part in peaceful and authorised actions in support of Kenya's health system is totally unacceptable. Subjecting health workers to violence for attempting to improve the healthcare system for us all, is despicable.

We call on President William Ruto to issue an immediate public statement explaining what has occurred and committing to bring the perpetrators to justice.

We call on the Kenyan government to respond to the demands of the KMPDU and other health unions in ensuring the release of funds to secure the placement of medical interns.

An attack on a trade union leader is an attack on all trade unionists. PSI is monitoring the situation and will take all necessary action to support Davji and the KMPDU. We call on all trade unions and PSI's 740 affiliates across 160 countries to demand the Kenyan government take action.

We wish Davji a speedy recovery and our thoughts are with him, his family and all KMPDU members”

PSI stands with Comrade Davji and all of Kenya's health workers facing oppression at the hands of the Government for standing up for their rights.

We demand an immediate and thorough investigation to bring the perpetrators and collaborators to justice.

PSI will continue to monitor the situation and raise concerns with the Kenyan government directly and through our global affiliates.


Comarde Davji at PSI's Congress in Geneva

Comrade Davji at PSI's Congress in Geneva

We call on Kenya health workers and citizens to stand in solidarity with Davji and follow any laid-out plan put forward by their leadership.

We have watched with concern the increased use of force against demonstration in the region to quell dissent by workers, youth, women, and the public. This represents an afront to democracy, right to freedom of expression and fundamental union rights. With economic crises ravaging the incomes of workers and public services, we call on all workers to stand together in solidarity and against such forms of oppression.

We are aware that this attack came as a result of pressure from the IMF and World Bank to cut public spending. As part of their technical advice to governments, they insist that countries cut wage payments to health personnel. They also insist that public services be privatised, thus to be taken of the public budgets and accounts. Finally, they provide advice to governments that in order to take these measures, they must undermine trade unions representing public service workers, such that they are unable to effectively oppose these measures.

These policies are being implemented in many countries, not only Kenya. But it appears that the Government of Kenya is taking them to the letter, weakening public services that families and communities depend on and attacking fundamental pillars of democratic institutions – including labour rights.

We demand justice for Dr Davji immediately.