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Patients suffer as Nairobi medics begin strike over pay row

Health & Science - By Mercy Adhiambo | September 8th 2015 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300
Philis Wangui, who is due for delivery, with her husband outside Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital after being turned away due to the nurses’ strike in Nairobi. [Photo: WILLIS AWANDU]

KENYA: Patients in Nairobi County hospitals were Monday left unattended as medics started their strike over a salary dispute.

Relatives and friends of patients were forced to seek alternatives in private hospitals.

When The Standard visited different health facilities within the city, there was confusion among patients, especially the ones who had been admitted earlier, since they were not sure if nurses and clinical officers would attend to them.

Several hospitals had many patients sitting and waiting for hours in the hope that they would be treated before the day ended.

On Sunday, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) and the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) said they will be going on strike until the Nairobi county government meets their demands.

"It is unfortunate that sick people are the ones who suffer the most when health workers are on strike. However, if the county government does not address the issues we had raised, then the strike will continue indefinitely," said KUCO Secretary General George Gibore.

The two unions held a demonstration at Nairobi's Uhuru Park, where they blamed the county government for not making plans to move patients despite having received a 14-day strike notice from the unions.

"We gave them the strike notice so that they can make plans and advise patients on what to do," said KNUN Nairobi branch secretary Eunice Ngari.

Phylis Wangui who was admitted at the Mama Lucy Hospital in the maternity wing was discharged and told to look for an alternative as there were no nurses to attend to her.

"I am due anytime now. I came on Saturday, but today I was told to leave because nurses are on strike. I don't know where to go now," she said.

The same situation was at the Makadara Hospital where mothers held their ailing and wailing babies, not knowing if they would get treatment.

The hospital administrators said even though the medics had downed their tools, there were some who have defied the strike and were attending to emergency cases.

The administrators added that some nurses had reported to work but were on a go-slow.

At the Pumwani Maternity Hospital, some nurses who reported to work said they hope the county government resolves their issues soon.

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