The decision by Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to skip Homa Bay County after visiting Kisii on Friday could worsen the health crisis facing the region.
It is not clear why the CS cancelled the planned visit and instead proceeded to Kakamega on Saturday.
Health workers, through their representatives, had wanted to present their grievances to Mr Kagwe to avert a looming paralysis of services in Nyanza counties.
Homa Bay is the worst affected in the region after medics in public health facilities went on strike over the poor quality of personal protective equipment (PPE). The strike has left most facilities dysfunctional, forcing patients to seek medical care in private health facilities.
It had been hoped that Kagwe's visit would have offered the medics and opportunity to iron out their issues with the county government.
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Meanwhile in Kisumu, the secretary of lab technologists in Kisumu, Hillary Owili, said members had abandoned work to protest against the use of substandard masks. Officials have sought to dialogue with the medics.
Chief Officer for Health and Sanitation Joseph Okweso dismissed claims that masks that were issued to health workers were substandard. "We are committed to ensuring all healthcare workers are safe. We will ensure a conducive environment for everyone in hospitals,” Dr Okweso said.
He said the masks in question were supplied by Kenya Medical Supply Agency to 123 facilities.
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union Kisumu branch chairman Kevin Osuri said they will not allow doctors to work without PPE. “We will stay out until our safety at work is guaranteed,” said Dr Osuri.
Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Organising Secretary Maurice Opetu said nurses will not work until quality masks are provided. “We have told our supervisors of the danger of using substandard masks," he said. Three healthcare workers in Kisumu tested Covid positive last week. KNUN chairman Collins Ajwang called for mass testing of medics following claims of substandard masks in use.
Siaya County Secretary Joseph Ogutu said they will hold a meeting with the doctors. "We have already received the strike notice and are consultating to resolve the issues," said Mr Ogutu.
[Report by Mactilda Mbenywe, Harold Odhiambo, James Omoro and Olivia Odhiambo]