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Health unions demand justice for assaulted hospital staff in Busia

Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary-General Davji Bhimji. [Denis Kibuchi, Standard]

Six trade unions in the health sector have condemned the recent incident of violence against medical staff at Port Victoria Hospital in Busia County.

The incident, captured in an undated video, showed a student identified as Vanessa Ogema harassing hospital staff over what she claimed was a failure to attend to a patient.

Ogema was seen throwing files on the floor, hitting a table, and threatening to call a powerful politician from the area.

The unions said that such acts of aggression not only jeopardize the safety and well-being of healthcare professionals but also undermine the critical healthcare services they provide to the community.

“It is deeply distressing that healthcare workers, who dedicate their lives to saving lives and alleviating suffering, are subjected to violence in the course of their duties,” the unions said in a joint statement issued on Thursday, January 4.

“This incident is a stark reminder of the urgent need for enhanced security measures within healthcare facilities across the country,” they added.

The unions, led by Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary-General Davji Bhimji, cited the Health Act, which provides that a user of the health system has the duty to adhere to the rules of a health facility when receiving treatment or using the health services provided by the establishment.

They expressed concern that almost all hospitals do not have scanners, and anybody can get into the hospital with weapons, without forgetting that several people seeking attention are mentally ill.

They further demanded the immediate arrest of the assailants, who are now well known, the enhancement of security surveillance and intervention protocols in all health facilities across the country, the provision of armed security personnel in all health facilities, especially during night duties, and the urgent implementation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act within health facilities.

The health unions' statements come after Health Cabinet Secretary Susan Nakhumicha also condemned the attack.

In a statement, Nakhumicha said the assault was not only an attack on an individual but also on the entire healthcare system.

"This recent case of assault on a healthcare worker endangers their lives and disrupts the vital services they provide to other patients and the community,” she said.

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