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More pain as doctors join other health staff in strike

By STANDARD TEAM | 3 months ago

 KMPDU officials from left: treasurer Daisy Korir, secretary general Chibanzi Mwachonda, chairman Samwel Oroko and Nyanza chapter secretary general Kevin Osuri in Kisii on 21/12/2020. [Sammy Omingo,Standard]

It was a heartbreaking story of pain and anguish in public hospitals across the country yesterday after 7,200 doctors joined nurses and and other medics in downing tools until the Government meet their demands. 

With medics vowing they will only return to work after the Government has addressed all their concerns, millions of Kenyans are now own their own. 

The scene in hospitals around the country was the same with patients left unattended while in some counties, facilities were shut all together.

One cancer patient died at Kakamega Teaching and Referral Hospital after she was left unattended for more than 10 hours.

Majority of health facilities in Kakamega County had been deserted.

In Vihiga, governor Wilbur Ottichilo announced closure of all public hospitals, including the Mbale County Referral facility, due to the strike.

In Busia, the county referral hospital was a deserted place as doctors began their strike yesterday.

Patients discharged

All wards remained closed after patients were discharged when clinical officers and nurses went on strike that has now entered the third week.

The situation was similar in the five sub county hospitals including Chakoli, Khunyangu, Port Victoria, Nambale and Sio Port.

 A deserted outpatient section at the Busia County Referral Hospital. [Ignatius Odanga/Standard]

Chief Officer for Health and Sanitation Isaac Omeri told The Standard that striking medics had refused to have talks with county health officials.

Meanwhile, the Busia County Service Board has started the process of hiring some 10 new medical officers. At least 55 candidates have already been interviewed.

At the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital, one of the biggest referral facility that serves at least seven counties, patients booked for review and operations were left stranded.

Beatrice Muthoni, 60, who arrived at the hospital at 6am, expecting to be operated on as she has a growth in the stomach, was left unattended.

Another patient, Florence Ekale, from Gilgil with a reproductive health problem that required review, was also stranded at the facility.

The Standard established that there were no admissions, with medics only attending to emergency cases.

Even as the striking medics maintained their hard stance, governor Lee Kinyanjui said his administration had met all their demands and threatened to take legal action against striking force.

But Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Acting Secretary General Chibanzi Mwachonda dismissed the governor’s statement, saying their demands had not been met.

Dr Mwachonda maintained that intimidation will not stop doctors from pushing for their demands.

 Meru health workers picket at the Meru Level Five Hospital after the Upper Eastern branch of KMPDU with 500 members announced it had joined the 14-day strike on December 21, 2020. [Wainaina Ndung'u/Standard] 

In Baringo County, there were no admissions in all public hospitals, with patients in wards being discharged.

Health services were also paralysed in Samburu, Kericho, Bomet, Narok and Nyandarua counties.

In Nyanza, all public health facilities remained shut while those that remained opened had no staff on duty.

Most affected was the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital and Covid-19 isolation units where asymptomatic patients were abandoned.

In Migori, governor Zachary Obado pleaded with striking health workers to resume work and embrace dialogue.

Speaking at Migori Level IV Hospital during the launch of a Sh68 million amenity wing to help reduce maternal deaths, Obado noted that Migori health workers grievances had been addressed.

Health workers strike in the county has entered its second month.

The nurses protest lack of promotion, comprehensive medical cover, non-remittance of statutory deductions and lack of PPEs.

In Central region, representatives of doctors regretted that the national government had failed to take a 14-day window of negotiations offered when their union suspended joining the work boycott.

The KMPDU Upper Eastern Secretary Dennis Mugambi said all the medical doctors, pharmacists, dentists and specialist medical doctors had downed tools in Embu, Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Isiolo and Marsabit counties.

In Murang'a, only health workers working on contracts financed by development partners were on duty manning some crucial departments.

In Kiambu, residents relying on public health care facilities faced an uncertain future after doctors deployed in county-run hospitals boycotted work, joining other healthcare workers in a strike over non-payment of salaries and risk allowances.

Health facilities across the county revealed empty beds and waiting bays. 

 A stranded patient at the Rift Valley Provincial General Hospital in Nakuru on December 21, 2020. [Kipsang Joseph,Standard]

In Makutano, West Pokot, patients flocked private hospitals seeking treatment as the health workers strike in the county showed no signs of ending.

A spot check by The Standard at the Kapenguria County hospital revealed doctors in the facilities did not report to work and almost all the beds were empty.

West Pokot County Kenya Nurses Union branch secretary Simon Konocho said they are negotiating with the county government on signing a Collective Bargaining Agreement before they call off the strike.

In Trans Nzoia, striking medics defied orders by Governor Patrick Khaemba to resume work.

Hospital shut

In Nandi county, Kapsabet County Hospital was closed down and no health worker was available to attend to patients.

The situation was also replicated in Uasin Gishu and Elgeyo Marakwet counties

In Mombasa, most health facilities were deserted with nurses' and doctors' union officials ruling out calls by the county government to call off the strike that is in its sixth week.

In Kilifi, health service in public facilities continued in most health facilities despite a push by the union officials on the nurses to down their tools.

A spot check revealed that services in Kilifi County Referral Hospital and Mariakani Hospital in Kilifi County went on smoothly.

In Kwale, it was also a total paralysis as all health workers downed their tools. 

[Reports by Nathan Ochunge, Ignatius Odanga, John Shilitsa, Willie Khaemba and Benard Lusigi, Mercy Kahenda, Yvonne Chepkwony,  Mactilda Mbenywe, Boniface Gikandi and Wainaina Ndung'u, Anne Otieno, Edward Kosut, Irissheel Shanzu, Osinde Obare, Benard Sanga and Renson  Mnyamwezi]

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