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Grim struggle to keep patient alive

Health & Science
 Security guards control number of patients who enter the Coast General Provincial Hospital in the ongoing doctors strike. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

It took Tom Wanyere three days of frantic calls to persuade a doctor to agree to attend to his 28-year-old son battling stomach cancer at Coast General Hospital (CGH) in Mombasa.

But by yesterday afternoon, the doctor had not turned up.

A desperate Mr Wanyera even turned to passersby outside CGH to find out whether any had skills to change his son’s intravenous tube.

He said a nurse at the hospital told him that it is only a doctor who can change the intravenous tube that supplies food or drinks.

“I was told the tube and food can only be fixed by a doctor. He has not eaten or taken water for the last three days. He has become very weak,” said Wanyera.

In January, Wanyera said his son underwent an open abdominal surgery and doctors were trying to insert a rectal catheter to enable him pass urine and stool before they went on strike.

The son, who works as a car trade broker in Mombasa, has not eaten or drunk water for the last three days and his health has deteriorated.

Wanyere said the patient is surviving only on pain killers as there are no doctors or clinical officers to prescribe any other medicine or refer him to a private hospital.

At the ward, the patient is visibly in pain. His stomach has swollen because, and according to his father, he cannot discharge stool or urine.  

 Security guards control number of patients who enter the Coast General Provincial Hospital in the ongoing doctors strike. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

“For the last three days, I have been making calls to doctors in private practice. Yesterday one promised to come to assist me but he has not arrived,” said a distressed Wanyere.

He said the hospital bill is currently at Sh350,000 despite the fact that he has not received any medication.

The father’s pain and desperation can been seen in his face.

This is the dilemma most relatives of the few patients remaining at government facilities in Mombasa were faced with yesterday as the strike by doctors and nurses entered its sixth week. At the emergency section, Mr Tony Franklin Wang’alwa was lucky. A doctor was able to attend to his seven-year-old son Griffin Atiri ailing from chronic sickle cell anemia.

“I’ve been told to take the kid to India for bone marrow transplant but I can’t raise Sh5 million required. I’ll continue to bring him here whenever the condition deteriorate,” said Mr Wang’alwa.

For the last one-and-a-half months, health workers have been on strike over poor pay and non-remittance of statutory deduction by the Mombasa county government.

Yesterday Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) Coast branch Secretary General Dr Abidan Mwachi said the union will not call off the strike until their demands are met.

And Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun), Mombasa branch Secretary, Peter Maroko claimed that county officials were intimidating and blackmailing nurses to go back to work. 

“Paying a nurse who has been trained for three-and-a-half years Sh10,000 to Sh15,000 is an insult to the profession and the entire health workers’ fraternity,” said Mr Maroko. 

The nurses want the Covid-19 allowance that was paid in the first three months of the pandemic to be reinstated and sustained, noting the disease is here to stay.

Yesterday Mombasa County officials could not be reached for comments.

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