Around 40,000 state health staff launched industrial action on 1 March, claiming they were being overworked.
Yesterday, Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua said all staff who had failed to show up for duty had had their names deleted from the payroll.
He said: “The government has taken this firm action to alleviate further suffering of innocent Kenyans. It is wrong and unethical, regardless of any disagreement, for a health profession to abscond duty and lead to the loss of life and or suffering of any patient.”
Mr Mutua asked any unemployed health professionals to report to the nearest health facility today to apply for the sudden vacancies.
Alex Orina of the Kenya Health Professionals Society said the government’s shock announcement was a negotiating tactic. He said the health workers were striking because of a heavy workload due to staff shortages, and because of inadequate equipment and supplies.
Mr Orina claimed some midwives have had to deliver babies without surgical gloves, exposing themselves, the mother and the child to infections, such as HIV and hepatitis.
Doctors from Kenya’s public hospitals went on strike late last year to demand better pay.