Strike takes its toll on patients

Female surgical ward empty at Kisumu county hospital following a week long health workers strike.
Patients in public hospitals in Kisumu were left unattended yesterday as health workers boycotted work for the second day.

A spot check by The Standard at Kisumu County Hospital (KCH) and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital (JOOTRH) showed services had been paralysed, with only local NGOs offering HIV and Aids services.

“Some patients who need immediate medical care are weak but there is nothing we can do to help them,” said Millicent Aketch, a worker with a local NGO.

James Onyango, who looked frail, said he had been told by health workers at a public hospital to seek medical care in a neighbouring county or private facilities.

SEE ALSO :Why Kisumu's healthcare is on its deathbed

At JOOTRH, the situation worsened after 20 nurses on contract also downed tools yesterday, claiming not to have been paid for the past five months.

A nurse who sought anonymity stated that they were each demanding net salary of Sh23,000.

“When other nurses are on strike, we are overwhelmed yet paid nothing. Our employer has breached our contract,” she said.

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Kisumu county healthcare workers have declined to resume duties even as other county workers report back to work without July salaries.

Hard stance

SEE ALSO :Dialogue best remedy for Kisumu doctors’ strike

Their hard stance has seen services in 132 health facilities paralysed. Yesterday, the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO), Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) and Kenya Union of Laboratory Technologists staged protests demanding their salaries.

Knun Kisumu branch secretary Maurice Opetu said health workers won’t sacrifice anymore for the county until they are paid.

In a letter seen by The Standard dated August 15 addressed to secretary-general Knun and signed by the acting county secretary George Okongo, the official stated that the county government was making efforts to pay staff salaries for July.

“We are at an advanced stage of negotiating with banks to offer emergency facilities to enable us to pay the salaries by end of this week,” read part of the letter.

They are demanding July salaries and statutory deductions of three months, which have not been remitted including NHIF, pension and loans that have not been serviced since May.

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KUCO branch secretary Craus Okumu accused the county officials of disregarding the value of healthcare workers.

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KisumuMedics' strikePatients sufferingJOOTRH