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Patients on their own as medics go on strike


Patients after being discharged from Kisumu County Hospital following the medics strike which begun yesterday. [Collins Oduor, Standard]

Hundreds of patients abandoned their hospital beds across Kisumu county after nurses and clinical officers went on strike. 

When The Standard conducted a spot check at the facilities, James Oketch who had undergone a surgery to remove his urinary bladder a day ago was being wheeled out of the ward.

“The nurses told me that if the pain worsens I should seek medical care from a private hospital, but the reason I came here was because I can't afford the cost of a private facility,” Oketch said.

Another patient, Zainabu Akinyi, 16 had just been discharged from the ward even though she still needed more medication for her sickle cell condition.

“I was only given one out of the five different drugs I need and told to leave the hospital immediately,” Akinyi said.

Most affected were patients in Kisumu County Hospital and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital where medics deserted their work stations saying they would not continue rendering services upon the expiry of a strike notice issued last week on Tuesday.

The striking doctors, clinical officers, nurses, lab technologists and pharmacists are demanding implementation of what they claimed were stalled promotions since 2016.

There were fears of an increase in the spread of the Covid-19 disease as medics manning the isolation units in the two facilities failed to report to work.

Currently, one suspected Covid-19 case is isolated at Kisumu County Referral Hospital while six cases are at Jaramogi Odinga Hospital.

But Kisumu Governor Anyang' Nyong'o implored striking health workers to uphold their Hippocratic oath and return to work amid mass withdrawal of patients from public hospitals.

Prof Nyong'o said a bigger percentage of the workers' demands had been addressed by and called on the medics to be patient as the remaining issues were being sorted out.

"This is not the time to abandon patients, given the health challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic," Prof Nyong'o said as he raced against time to end the strike.

But, while announcing the strike, Kenya Union of Nurses, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers and Kenya Union Medical Laboratory Officers vowed to stay home until all their demands are met.

The KNUN Organising Secretary Maurice Opetu Opetu said a huge number of healthcare workers who have been in the workforce have never been promoted.

“We raised the complaints, but nothing has been done by our employer,” Opetu said.

The clinical workers union branch chairman Vincent Owaa also said they will not resume work until all pending allowances were paid.

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