Resume duty or face the sack, Barasa tells striking doctors

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa. [Benjamin Sakwa, Standard]

Kakamega Governor Fernandes Barasa has ordered striking doctors in the county to report to work on Friday at 8 am.

He warned of disciplinary action against doctors who will fail to resume duty.

"All striking doctors must report to their respective working stations tomorrow (Friday) by 8 am and resume their duties without fail. A doctor who will not be found at his or her working station will be sacked," said Barasa.

The governor who addressed the media at the county offices said: "We won't hesitate to dismiss any doctor who will not have reported to work by 8 am, we have many qualified doctors who can work diligently when you get replaced."

"The doctors are not indispensable. I hereby order and direct them to resume their work as negotiations on their grievances are being addressed," he added.

"The Employment and Labour Relations Court Judge Byram Ongaya declared the ongoing strike is illegal and they (doctors) must abide by it. That is the stand we as the Council of Governors (CoG) have taken."

Justice Ongaya, on April 3, suspended the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) strike and ordered that negotiations be completed within 14 days and parties report back to court by April 17.

"The strike notice remains suspended and the Whole of Nation Approach Committee to be completed in the next 14 days and the parties to report back in court," Ongaya said.

Barasa said as a result of the ongoing strike, theatre, surgical and special clinics services have been affected and the number of patients has drastically reduced.

"I want to tell the general public that health services at the dispensaries are ongoing and those who are sick, should go and seek medical services," he said.

As the strike drags on, the consequences of inaction have become increasingly dire. Preventable diseases go untreated, chronic conditions worsen, and lives hang in the balance as the healthcare system teeters on the brink of collapse.

"My child has been sick for a week now. At Kakamega County Referral Hospital, children under five years are normally treated for free but now, after tests are done, you are send to private chemists to buy prescribed drugs whose prices have been inflated as a result of the doctors strike," said John Kabole (real name withheld).

Phanice Awinja (not real name) said a doctor came to the hospital and advised her to take her sick mother to a private hospital in Kakamega to see a specialist.  "On arrival, it is the same doctor who was the specialist now working in the private hospital," she said.

"I paid Sh2,000 as consultation fee and Sh20,000 doctors fee and for the two days my mother spent at the facility, the bill was Sh87,000," said Ms Awinja.

She said her family was forced to sell their only two dairy cows to raise the money.

Earlier, Kakamega County Health Executive Bernard Wesonga announced that they had employed doctors on a temporary basis to offer critical services.

"We have consulted our governor and through his support, we have been able to hire Locam doctors temporarily to work with our nurses to ensure we have a continuous service delivery," he said.

"In critical sections like ICU, renal, theatre and maternity we are offering services but in clinics where the services of specific doctors are required, we have problems but we plan to hire more doctors on temporary arrangement to forestall challenges such as strikes," said Dr Wasonga.

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