Medics strike: Health risk as the s**k turn to OTC d***s

Monday, April 8th, 2024 00:00 | By
Striking doctors protest in the streets of Nairobi on March 22, 2024. PHOTO/X (@Davji)

Some chemist operators in Kitengela town have recorded high sales of medicine in what they attribute to the ongoing countrywide doctors and clinical officers strike.

The operators say use of painkillers and antihistamines among patients who cannot afford seeking treatment in private facilities have turned their business lucrative amid fears that   over-the-counter medicine administration endangers the lives of patients.

“I am even running out of stock for certain medicines because patients are coming in large numbers. Interestingly, most patients are not seeking any medical advice, they just come directly ordering the medicines. Azithromycin, antihistamines and painkillers like declofenac are the most abused drugs,” said one of the operators who sought anonymity owing to the sensitivity of the matter.

Desperate patients admitted that they have been reduced to buying OTC medication because private health services are not affordable, a matter they say has been worsened by the facilities declining to accept National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF) payments.

“I have a NHIF card that is paid up to date. Unfortunately, the private facilities have declined to offer services using the cards. I have no money to pay for consultation and laboratory services. Using Google I have just done self-diagnosis and assumed that I am suffering from bacterial infection. I am here to purchase the cheapest antibiotics because I have no option, “said John Oturo, a resident of Kitengela.

Hiked fees

Some patients claim that some private clinics have hiked consultation fees to reap big from the increased number of patients who ordinarily relied on public health facilities further denying them accessibility to health care.

“Where is the president? The ongoing medics strike is a national disaster. People will die, some medical conditions will worsen because of lack of access to health services. As people who depend on public health facilities we have been left not only to suffer but we are exposed to death in case of any medical emergency, “Alex Cheboit,  a resident lamented.

Locals also noted that the private health facilities are not taking chances and are strictly asking for payment upfront before any admissions to avert detaining patients who are unable to pay their bills.

“ The crisis is a painful reality. Accident patients are more exposed because lives are lost when they could have been saved,” said Loise Murui, a resident.

Residents now want the President to intervene with others calling for resignation of health CS Susan Nakhumicha, who they say has no goodwill in resolving the standoff.

“ The president should take this matter head on. The CS, COG and others mandated to led negotiations have failed Kenyans,” said Ruth Mbula, a resident.   Kitengela Sub County hospital which serves up to 700 patients in a day remains deserted with a handful of nurses.

Meanwhile, pressure is mounting on Health Cabinet Secretary, Susan Nakumincha to convene a meeting with striking doctors and clinical officers to end their almost mont-long strike.

Suffering patients

Bonchari Member of Parliament, Dr Charles Onchoke said the strike had paralysed operations at health facilities and patients were suffering.

He said it was shameful that the CS was unable to sit with the medics and resolve the impasse for the health workers to return to work.

“ Expectant mothers, the elderly and children are turned away from health facilities due to lack of health workers to attend them” Onchoke said at Nyasagati secondary school during a funds drive for Nyasagati SDA church yesterday.

The MP said some patients who were turned away from the facilities risked developing complications and get worse due to the protest.

“ I urge the CS to be humble and embrace dialogue with the medics to end the crisis” Onchoke said.

More on News