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Medical services in Busia County paralysed as nurses strike

By John Mondoh | October 13th 2016


Medical services in Busia County have been paralysed following a strike by nurses that kicked off on Tuesday.

Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) county chairman Isiah Omondi said the medics downed their tools after the county government failed to fulfill a return-to-work agreement signed in May and which was to be fully effected by the end of June.

In the agreement, the county government promised to promote medics who have been in service for between 10 and 15 years without progressing to higher job groups. The union had demanded the promotion of 143 members.

Addressing the press, the medical practitioners also cited staff shortages in the county.

"We have few staff. Some have retired but have not been replaced. The few who are on duty are strained and this has been a big challenge in the maternity ward where one has to do deliveries, care for the babies in the nursery as well as attend to pregnant women who are sick," said Mr Omondi.

"It is because of the staff shortage that the amenity section closed down," he added.

The nurses also complained about poor working conditions and noted that most hospitals lacked the necessary equipment.

They claimed Busia County Referral Hospital's maternity wing had no delivery beds and women were forced to use examinations couches.

No returning

A day-long meeting organised by the county administration to iron out the issues on Monday was fruitless, with the medics vowing not to return to work until their demands were met.

KNUN National Secretary General Seth Panyako accused the county of failing to honour workers' demands. Mr Panyako asserted that the strike was legal because the union had given 14 days' notice.

He faulted Governor Sospeter Ojaamong for giving empty promises.

"The governor has said several times that he has given his officers instructions to take action. We cannot keep wasting time pushing for one thing over and over for about four years," said Panyako.

"We are ready to fight with them whether in court or anywhere else to make sure the rights of our members are respected."

He called on residents to push the devolved government to offer quality health services.

The unionist described Busia, Nandi and Kiambu counties as the worst in the provision of health services.

The county referral hospital and other health facilities remained deserted as patients sought health services elsewhere.

"We have rights to medication, just like the nurses have rights to payment. Let the governor and his team consider the taxpayers by giving us medication," said Peter Manyuru, a patient.

County Health Executive Maurice Siminyu admitted there had been delays in the promotions agreed on and promised to resolve the stalemate.

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