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Is Atwoli what the doctor ordered?

The last time Francis Atwoli tried his hand at mediation, it resulted in loud grumbling in some quarters. That was last year when he tried to convince Western Kenya politicians that having too many bulls in one kraal is not very healthy for harmony.

And so he settled on Musalia Mudavadi as the reigning bull, thereby eliciting not so friendly reactions from Moses Wetang’ula and Boni Khalwale, who accused Atwoli of imposing Musalia on the Luhya community. But that did not in any way lower Atwoli’s opinion of his negotiation skills.

The Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) secretary-general yesterday offered to mediate between the striking doctors and the government to end the industrial stand-off, saying he had never lost a mediation case and was not about to lose one. He better not.

The strike has entered its third month and there seems to be no end in sight. While the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union officials were yesterday third time lucky in avoiding jail after the Employment and Labour Relations Judge Hellen Wasilwa once again suspended their contempt of court jail sentence, many patients have not been lucky to get a second chance at life. Death tends to be deaf to arguments.

It signs no collective bargaining agreements with anyone nor does it understand what a bloated wage bill is. Death does not suspend its coming, pending success of any negotiations.

When death strikes, you cannot threaten it with jail or the sack. It is the hope of many that after two months locked in a futile staring match, doctors and the government will see sense in adopting a give-and-take attitude and reach an agreement if for nothing else, to save lives.

Meanwhile, Atwoli must give it his all. May be he is what the doctor ordered for the health sector which is drifting away on its deathbed.

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