As families took their groaning relatives away from the wards, either to home or to private facilities certain to destroy their lifesavings if not their daily meagre earnings, the rest of Kenya pulled on as if there was nothing the matter.
The grimmer challenge gripped the education sector after Finance Minister Njeru Githae curtly announced salary increment sought by teachers would not be met unless the taxpayer is made to shoulder an additional 30 per cent income tax.
Teachers are demanding 300 per cent pay rise but Githae insists that taxes will either have to be increased or money be diverted from all other development project to pay teachers.
“Under the new Constitution, the Minister for Finance cannot withdraw any money from the Consolidated Fund without parliamentary approval and no money was factored in the budget for additional teachers salaries,” said Githae.
In Mombasa, unconfirmed reports indicated two patients died on Tuesday, as they lay unattended at the health facility. Hospital chief administrator David Mwangi denied reports patients had died due to neglect, but admitted the institution was operating at low capacity “because there are a few doctors on duty”.
He also admitted that patients had returned home without treatment due to the shortage of doctors at the Coast General Hospital.
In Nairobi, angry doctors took to the streets under tight police security demanding resignation of Medical Services minister Anyang’ Nyong’o and the implementation of the Musyimi Task Force report on improvement of medical facilities, recruitment of more doctors, and payment of emergency call allowances.
Doctors have vowed it would not be business as usual until the Government addresses all their concerns.
“The registrars have been on strike for 21 days and the doctors for seven days. We have not been engaged in any dialogue. We are not just asking for monetary increment; we want is better healthcare for all Kenyans. Nyong’o needs to resign from the health docket,” said Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union secretary general Dr Were Onyino.
They complained Nyong’o and other leaders go abroad for superior treatment, while ordinary Kenyans get poor health care in hospitals that have inadequate facilities.
In Nakuru, critically ill patients at the Rift Valley Provincial Hospital were forced to seek medication elsewhere as the strike continued. The situation was the same in all district hospitals in Nakuru, Kericho, and Narok counties.
A survey by The Standard team established that nurses and clinicians were the ones left to run hospitals.