Patients struggle with huge medical bills amidst doctors' strike

KMPDU maintains the doctors’ strike is still on despite court orders. [Edward Kiplimo,Standard]

A human rights organisation has raised concerns over the exorbitant medical bills patients face at private hospitals following the ongoing doctors' strike.

A survey conducted by the Human Rights Agenda (HURIA) in the six Coast counties between March 25 and March 27 established that most of them are paying dearly for medical services.

The survey revealed that 70 per cent of patients were unable to access services at the Coast General Hospital, Likoni Hospital, Kilifi Hospital, Kwale Hospital, and Msambweni County Referral Hospital.

The survey noted that while a majority of patients recorded having sought alternative medical attention from private hospitals, two percent sought their services from traditional healers.

HURIA chief executive officer Yusuf Lule said that the few who managed to get medical services were charged above the normal cost, which was costly to many.

“A few patients who reported to have accessed services at the respective hospitals said services were rendered above the normal rates and in most cases they could not see sought doctors and were only attended by nurses and clinical officers," said Lule.

He said that there has been one case of a patient being denied emergency medical treatment.

Lule said that 50 percent of the citizens who were interviewed admitted to having been highly affected by the ongoing doctor's strike despite zero fatalities.

He called upon the government to end the perennial healthcare strikes that have left patients across the country paying exorbitant charges to access medical services.

He said the citizens participating in the survey called on the government to honor the doctors’ demands and prioritize resources for the public health sector and action on the commitments given to the doctors over the years.

“Despite the challenges faced by the citizens in accessing health care services in hospitals, 74 percent of the people interviewed at the Coast region believe that health care workers have the right to strike. They also highlighted their dissatisfaction with how the government has handled the grievances raised by doctors over the years," said Lule.