Patients’ agony as nurses strike enters day two

Wednesday, December 9th, 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 country’s healthcare system is on the brink of a crisis amid the Covid-19 pandemic, as nurses and clinicians’ strike entered its second day yesterday. 

Critically ill-patients were discharged from the hospitals as nurses joined in the nationwide strike, protesting poor working conditions. 

Patients seeking emergency treatment at various public hospitals across the country, were also not spared as they were turned away, even as locals expressed concerns that the strike’s long-term effects would be catastrophic. 

Crucial health services such as maternity and operating theatres were also paralysed as expectant mothers in labour were advised to seek services at private facilities.

With a majority of Covid-19 patients holed up in public hospitals, experts warned that absence of critical caregivers poses a huge danger, in provision of healthcare. 

Proceeds of graft

At the centre of the medics dispute is failure by the government to provide a comprehensive health insurance, substandard Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), lack of isolation and treatment centres and pending payments among others. 

A spot check by the People Daily in a number of facilities within the country revealed that the wards remained deserted as relatives collected their patients. 

At Mama Lucy Hospital in Nairobi, families were forced to transfer their patients to private hospitals for further treatment as no services were being offered. 

Mark Ndung’u a boda boda rider is a distressed man, after a road accident he had hoped to be treated and get back to work however his wishes remain a dream. 

“I have seen the doctor but there is no one to dress my wound. Nurses here are on strike and we are suffering as poor Kenyans,” said Ndung’u. 

Nurses have accused their respective county leaders of not doing enough to protect its frontline workers claiming a number had shifted to popularizing referendum at the expense of health. 

In Kisumu, the healthcare workers officials led by Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Kisumu branch secretary Craus Okumu, pointed out that it was unfortunate that healthcare workers were dying and leaders were busy politicking. 

 “We are not going to risk our lives without being paid reasonable risk allowances,” he said. 

Organising secretary Anne Owiti maintained that they will not heed to any orders to go back to work if their grievances are not addressed.  

At the Kisumu County Hospital most wards remained empty. 

At Homa Bay County Referral Hospital there was a slow pace in health services as relatives were seeking transfers to private facilities. 

In Nakuru county, Health County Executive Committee Dr. Kariuki Gichuki confirmed that services have returned to normalcy in all 14-public hospitals in the county.  

“We are still in operation as nurses have returned back to work, I don’t think the county has any outstanding issues with its nurses,” said Gichuki. 

However, Knun Nakuru branch Secretary General Syprene Odera said that out of 1,000 nurses, 750 have downed their tools. 

A number of nurses reported to work yesterday but many were loitering outside the facility for the better part of the day with helpless patients forced to seek services elsewhere. 

 “The only nurses available at the institution are those on contract and a few others, otherwise do not be deceived, nurses are on strike,” said Odera. 

In Mombasa services continued to be derailed after about 168 clinical officers downed their tools. 

The medics have accused Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho of ignoring their plight, and instead engaging in political campaigns in Msambweni at the expense of vulnerable patients who have continued to bear the brunt of prolonged medics’ strike. 

Kenya Union of clinical officers Mombasa branch secretary Frankline Makanga said clinical officers will not be reporting to work until their demands, among them salary delays; remittance of statutory deductions and the provision of PPEs is addressed. 

“No medic is going to die again, we will stay out of work until our demands are met. The strike will continue because the government has refused to listen,” said Makanga.  Reporting by Harrison Kivisu, Roy Lumbe, Henry Andanje, Noven Owiti, Viola Kosome and Alvin Mwangi

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