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Nairobi to hire doctors, work with private hospitals to address crisis

By JOSPHAT THIONG'O and CYRUS OMBATI | Updated Wed, December 14th 2016 at 00:23 GMT +3
A patient arrives at Accident and Emergency unit in Kenyatta National Hospital amidst the medics’ strike. PHOTO: EDWARD KIPLIMO.

Nairobi County is seeking to recruit new doctors even as it engaged 17 hospitals in a bid to restore normalcy in public hospitals.

Yesterday, the county government said it had engaged services of private and faith based hospitals.

MP Shah, St Marys hospital in Lang'ata, St Francis Community hospital in Kasarani and Nairobi Hospital are among the private and faith based facilities that have reached a consensus with the county government to give treatment to patients as the health workers' strike continues.

"We have had talks and written to 17 chief executive officers of major private and faith-based hospitals and they have agreed to partner with us and offer emergency services to Nairobians, in a bid to address the health crisis," health executive Benard Muia said.

This, he said, meant that only patients with emergency cases will be attended to in the said health facilities.

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Those who will benefit are patients in need of urgent surgical services, those involved in low traffic accidents, diabetics and anyone in a comma.

Mr Muia said the county government had advertised for the positions of the doctors who are still on strike.

He urged willing and able doctors to apply for the positions, saying it was the only way to prevent more deaths in hospitals.

So far, 20 people have died countrywide as a result of the strike that begun on December 5.

The executive, however, revealed that applicants would be hired as locum medical practitioners, meaning that they would work part time before the stalemate with the Government and medics is resolved.

Last week, the county hired three medical officers who were stationed at Pumwani Maternity Hospital and is expected to hire 45 more.

"We are hereby advertising for locum or part time doctors to apply for the positions and we are ready to hire and pay them by the hour. However, the doctors' strike is a developing situation and it might get to a stage where we will be forced to hire permanent doctors," Muia said.

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Muia added that hospitals such as Mama Lucy, Mbagathi and Pumwani had consultants on standby who offered emergency and outpatient services.

He added that the health facilities had been offering immunisations, issuing anti-retroviral drugs, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and comprehensive care such as tuberculosis treatment.

But County Assembly Health Committee Chairman Manoah Mboku dismissed claims that it was business as usual in level three and four hospitals, saying the county still faced a drugs shortage. This, he added, was made worse by the strike.

Meanwhile, the Employment and Labour Relations Court yesterday declared the doctors strike illegal and ordered them to resume work immediately.

The court directed union officials to call off the strike that began last Monday.

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