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Nurses save lives of pregnant women as doctors strike bites

 Patricia Ndoro (right). She sees at least 40 pregnant mothers daily. [File, Standard]

Patricia Ndoro, a maternal nurse at Kilifi County Referral Hospital has been seeing at least 40 pregnant mothers every day since doctors downed tools a month ago.

Before the strike which has paralysed services in public hospitals across the county, the facility would record about 18 deliveries per day. However, the number has doubled with pregnant women visiting the facility from the neighbouring Mombasa county.

"Many women from rural areas are referred here and due to the ongoing strike, not all health facilities offer services. Some of them come from as far as Mombasa," said Ndoro.

As a result of the increasing number of pregnant women seeking services, the nurse has been forced to work for long hours. "I'm not complaining because I'm employed to serve, It would be wrong for me to abandon them," she said.

Despite the ongoing medics strike that has left thousands of patients stranded, in  Kilifi county, nurses like Ndoro continue to serve patients with passion and dedication. 

In fact, some of the patients seen by Ndoro and her colleagues chose to refer to them as heroines and heroes for their dedication to duty.

They are doing whatever they can to ensure patients visiting the referral facility get assistance.

Dr Wilfred Tunje Mwabonje, a doctor at the Kilifi Referral Hospital has also been busy saving lives since the strike began. 

"I have colleagues whom we are working around the clock – and in unfamiliar settings to keep services running and patients safe," said Dr Mwabonje.

Grace Katana, a resident who visited the facility for antenatal clinic thanked the health workers for their dedication to save lives despite the nationwide industrial action by medics.

"We haven’t seen any incidents of patients neglected so far. I came here about an hour ago, and I have been attended to,” Katana said.

Rural dispensaries in the county had earlier reported lack of malaria test kits and drugs.

Dr James Kahindi, a medical officer at Matolani dispensary said Magarini sub-county has had a shortage of malaria test kits since November last year.

This has put lives of patients at risk due to delayed diagnosis and late treatment of the disease.

Kilifi County Malaria Coordinator, Grace Baya said the last Kenya malaria indicator survey showed Kilifi's prevalence was at 8 per cent in 2015 and it went down to 6 per cent in 2020.

Baya acknowledged shortage of malaria test kits and drug. "Earlier on, we had a slight shortage of drugs but we have received supplies for this quarter, so at the moment we don't have any shortages of drugs. We have enough severe malaria drugs, just that we don't stock a lot because the severe malaria cases have gone down," she said.

Doctors and medical interns went on strike to demand implementation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) signed in 2017, but President William Ruto has indicated that the country cannot afford to pay them.

The president has asked the doctors to call off their strike and go back to work, saying the government can only pay intern doctors Sh70,000 and not the Sh206,000 they are demanding.

In 2017, a doctors' strike that lasted 100 days was the longest in the country’s history.

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