Paralysis rocks healthcare as medics strike enters day four

Thursday, December 10th, 2020 00:00 |
Empty wards at the Kisumu County and Referral Hospital after patients were forced to go back home following the ongoing nurses’ strike. Photo/PD/Viola Kosome

 The healthcare system is headed to a total shutdown as nurses and clinicians’ strike enters its fourth day today. 

A number of hospitals remained deserted yesterday with critical caregivers staying away from their work stations. 

The impact of the strike was clear as dusty, abandoned stretchers littered the wards in most public health facilities. 

With private hospitals proving to be too expensive for most Kenyans, a number have ended up being detained in the very hospital that was treating them. 

With health experts arguing that detention for debt is a violation of international law, the government has been urged to work on putting an end to the strike. 

A spot check by People Daily revealed that operations continue to be disrupted as patients advised to seek services elsewhere.

In Nyamira County, patients from rural areas who came to the referral hospital were forced to seek medical attention in private centres. 

In a bizarre turn of events, nurses and clinicians were around their places of work but not attending to patients, including those who were in critical condition. 

At Manga, Ekerenyo, Nyamusi, Esani, Gesima, Nyansiongo and Keroka sub-county hospitals, patients were being referred to the governor’s home to seek medication. 

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers  (Kuco)chairmanNyamira branch, Bonface Kegusu, said  they will not resume duty until their full demands have been addressed. 

He accused the county government of being arrogant and dishonest when it comes to handling their issues. 

County Secretary James Ntabo and the Health CEC Douglas Bosire have petitioned the medics to resume duty as their demands were being addressed. 

“We want to urge all medics to heed to our calls and return to work as we seek to find a lasting solution,” said Bosire. 

Similarly, operations at the Nakuru Level Five Hospital remained strained as contracted nurses were overwhelmed as patients kept streaming.  According to nurses who sought anonymity, they warned that it was only a matter of time before the hospital started experiencing burnouts among those on duty. 

Nurses revealed that a number have been forced to work for longer shifts, claiming they are afraid to lose their jobs by joining their striking colleagues. 

Risk allowance

On Tuesday, County Health Executive Kariuki Gichuki expressed confidence that services were operational in all 14 public hospitals within the county. 

In Uasin Gishu, operations were on a standstill as nurses kept off work. Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) county Secretary Beatrice Wambui, accused the county government of not doing enough to protect healthcare workers. 

Addressing the press in Eldoret town, the medical practitioners said they want implementation of a comprehensive cover, enhanced risk allowance among other demands.

“We are like orphans. We have been disowned by our own government. We want equal allowances and promotions,” said Wambui. 

On his part Kuco County Secretary David Mati said they lack adequate PPEs. 

Knun secretary general Seth Panyako, said they were devastated by the increasing number of dying nurses.  Reporting by Emmanuel Masinde, Roy Lumbe and Evans Nyakundi

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