Nurses strike continues as effects of unrest bite
As the nurses and clinicians strike enters its 10th day, Kenyans seeking medical services have been left with a dwindling hope for a return to normalcy in the health sector.
With the industrial action irking a number of residents and leaders, calls to have the healthcare workers back to work has proven futile.
A number of government hospitals within the country have completely shut down with those operating without nurses and clinicians.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui has called on parliament to make amendments to the existing labour laws to curb strikes in the country.
According to Kinyanjui, trade unions were busy making the country uncompetitive with numerous calls for industrial action.
“Some of the issues being sought are not for the county, our doctors are being taken care of and PPEs are enough to serve us until April,” he added.
Yesterday, Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Mombasa branch asked all its members to vacate their workstations within 12 hours following failure by county government to heed to their demands.
The medics held a peaceful demonstration at Governor Hassan Joho’s office yesterday afternoon but their plan to seek an audience with governor Joho was futile as the county chief was in Msambweni overseeing a parliamentary by-election.
In Narok, people living along the Kenya-Tanzania border have been forced to seek medical attention in the neighboring country.
Medics at Ewaso and Loliondo confirmed that locals have since last week been trooping the two hospitals for attention, adding that they were the majority of patients they attend to every day.
“Despite hardships to access Tanzania, they still find their way here. About 60 percent of patients, we see every day are Kenyans,” said Peter Msangi, the head of Loliondo hospital on the phone.
Meanwhile, herbalists in Narok are cashing in on the strike as residents seek treatment from them, a survey in Ewaso Nyiro, Suswa, Ntulele and Duka Moja trading centres has indicated.
In Uasin Gishu services have since been crippled.
KNUN county secretary Beatrice Kariuki said they are still on strike until the government meets their demands.
Kariuki insisted that they will not return to work, claiming that no county official has called them for any meeting.
“We have done meetings with the county government, but they did not give us anything, we told them we are suffering as health workers and we need proper and adequate PPEs,” she said.
Eldoret Catholic Diocese Bishop Dominic Kimengich has called on the Government to work on reaching an agreement with health workers so as to end a nationwide strike.
In Kakamega County services remained paralysed as the suffering of patients worsened due to the ongoing nurses’ strike.
At Kakamega County Referral Hospital, Iguhu Hospital in Ikolomani, Shibuye, Makunga in Lurambi and Malava Level IV Hospital in Malava services had stalled.
KNUN secretary Renson Bulunya said they would press on with the strike until their demands were met.
He said the county government had remained adamant and had been employing new staff in a bid to divide the health workers.
“We know there are some of our members who are being coerced to work but we have told them not to dare.
We will only go back on duty when all our demands have been met,” said Bulunya. Reporting by Emmanuel Masinde, Roy Lumbe, Peter Leshan, Monica Kagia, and Denis Lumiti