A Court in Kenya has issued an order to doctors to end their strike in the next five days or face jail terms.
The judge, Justice Hellen Wasilwa had earlier handed the union leaders a suspended one-month sentence on January 12, after they defied a December ruling declaring the strike illegal.
She had also given them a two-week period for negotiations to avoid jail.
However, on Thursday, Wasilwa extended the period for the doctors to call off the strike by five days.
“The role of this court is to bring a solution, and an amicable solution,’’ she said when announcing the extension.
The decision has forced several thousand doctors and their supporters to march from the court to the centre of Nairobi for a meeting where union leaders were to discuss their response to the court order.
The over 5,000 members of the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists’ Union (KMPDU) began the strike on December 5, 2016.
Since then, newspapers have reported that patients in critical condition were left unattended to with images published of empty hospital beds as families have taken patients home to look after them.
The union is demanding the fulfilment of a 2013 agreement which it awarded doctors a 150-180 per cent pay rise on basic salaries, which is a review of working conditions and promotions criteria, as well as hiring of more staff in state hospitals.