Agony, despair as no end in sight yet for nurses’ strike

Friday, December 11th, 2020 00:00 | By
Nurses and clinical officers in Mombasa county light candles in solidarity with colleague who succumbed to Covid-19 while on duty. Photo/PD/Bonface Msangi

With no end in sight to the ongoing nurses and clinicians’ strike in the country, services at government hospitals continue to be paralysed for the fifth day running.  

Shockingly, two major hospitals in Busia and Bungoma counties are reported to have closed down indefinitely, subjecting patients to untold suffering as nurses kept off work. 

The People Daily has established that a number of patients were prematurely discharged due to the ongoing strike as the management of the facilities claimed they had no alternative. 

Patients visiting the two facilities for services were turned away as there was no one to take care of them. 

At the Busia County Referral Hospital, Medical Superintendent, Namudala Emukule, confirmed that both inpatient and outpatient services have been suspended indefinitely. 

He said that the hospital’s management had also closed wards and other sections after discharging all patients who had been admitted. 

According to the official, services at the hospital had been grounded including emergency and casualty. 

Still grounded

A meeting scheduled between the nurses union and the hospital’s management led by Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi, who is also the acting county Health minister on Wednesday aborted when the officials failed to turn up. 

County Covid-19 pandemic coordinator Dr. David Mukabi, said eight patients who tested positive to the virus are still admitted at Alupe Hospital Isolation Treatment Centre despite the strike.  ‘’We are likely to discharge all patients at the centre because there are no nurses to attend to new cases in case they emerge.’

The situation is the same at the Bungoma County Referral Hospital after an internal memo by the medical superintendent Dr. David Wanikina suspending operations. 

Wanikina attributes the closure to the ongoing strike that has paralysed all the services. 

“This is to inform you that due to the ongoing nurses and clinical officers industrial action that began on December 7, the facility has suspended its operations,” the memo stated. 

Yesterday, a 12-year-old girl is said to have lost her life in Baringo county after waiting for treatment for long hours. 

Zainabu Bashir said her granddaughter died while on the way to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret, from Kabarnet Hospital. 

Bashir said the girl, who had a brain tumor, complained of a headache on Monday morning before she took her to hospital. 

However, Baringo County Health Executive Mary Panga, said she was not aware of the death but maintained operations at the facility were still grounded due to the ongoing strike. 

In Nyamira county, private health institutions are taking advantage of the ongoing strike to exploit residents seeking medication at their facilities. 

A spot check revealed that the facilities have doubled their charges due to the overwhelming number of patients they were receiving due to the strike. 

On Wednesday, the county director of health services Silas Ayunga wrote a circular to striking medics asking them to resume duty, or be subjected to disciplinary action. 

In Bomet, nurses have vowed to go on with the strike until their issues are addressed by the county. 

Court order

Kenya National Union of Nurses Bomet Branch secretary Vincent Rono, said for as long as the county will remain defiant in addressing the grievances, the nurses will continue boycotting work. 

Elsewhere, the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Secretary-General George Gibore, has likened the move by Tharaka Nithi county government which has secured a court order to stop the strike, as a suicide mission for health workers. 

“Some county governments are using orthodox, intimidating and coercion tactics to force health care workers into death traps against the provisions of Occupational Safety and Health Act 2007,” he said. 

With cthye strike entering day five, Gibore speaking at Mbagathi Hospital directed all health workers on strike to disregard any communication to return to work. 

He said workstation remains risky for health workers and until their grievances are addressed, they will not bow to pressure.  - Reporting by Henry Andanje, Yusuf Masibo, Roy Lumbe, Benard Gitau and Felix Yegon

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