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Patients suffer as medics vow not to call off strike
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|Patients suffer as medics vow not to call off strike by Kenyans247(1): Thu 24, December, 2020 10:11am|
Patients are paying the price for the paralysis in public hospitals as both the government and health workers continue playing hard-ball.
Striking doctors, clinical officers and nurses have maintained that they will not resume work until their demands are met, but the national and county governments insist they have done enough.
Already, some county governments have initiated the firing and replacement of the striking health staff, but the health workers’ unions say not even that will move them.
But of concern is the plight of poor families that cannot afford expensive healthcare in private hospitals and have to watch their loved ones die.
Yesterday, Ms Esther Juma was inconsolable when her 26-year-old son died in agony due to lack of doctors to attend to him at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital in Mombasa.
Mr Levi Mila was scheduled to undergo surgery to remove a growth in his lungs but was discharged before the operation due to the strike.
“My son was my only hope. I don’t know where to start or what to do next,” said Ms Juma, a mother of two. “My son was scheduled for the operation on November 16. We were at the ward but we were discharged due to the strike.”
Mr Mila, his family told the Nation, was a promising fourth-year student at the Technical University of Mombasa.
“He was a very bright student. That is why a sponsor had offered to pay his university fees. He was pursuing a bachelor’s degree in commerce. I urge the government to help me bury my son,” said Ms Juma.
The government, however, only seems keen to punish the striking medics by sacking them. Kisii, Busia and Kakamega counties have already started hiring new staff replace those boycotting work.
Kisii Governor James Ongwae has put up an advertisement seeking 150 medical doctors, 30 specialists, 250 clinical officers and 450 nurses offering them three-year contracts.
In Busia, Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi said interviews for 10 doctors have been conducted.
“We have already carried out interviews for the positions of 10 doctors and 45 nurses and clinicians. We don’t want the healthcare system in Busia to stagnate,” said Mr Mulomi, who doubles as the Health Executive.
In Kakamega, Governor Wycliffe Oparanya has announced vacancies for 15 registered clinical officer III, 110 registered nurses III, 10 nutrition and dietetics technologists III, 10 medical social workers III and five medical laboratory technologists III.
“We have decided to replace the striking workers because the suffering of our people cannot be compromised by their demands. The strike is illegal,” said Mr Oparanya.
But Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) acting Secretary-General Chibanzi Mwachonda said no amount of threats will make them resume work.
The health staff want the government to meet all their demands — including provision of protective gears, life and medical covers, promotions and hiring of more workers. “We presented them with our grievances. We have followed due process and yet they threaten to fire us. What we need is not threats and intimidation,” he said.
Yesterday, the plight of patients caught the attention of various stakeholders who called on President Kenyatta to intervene and end the strike.
The National Assembly Health Committee asked Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to resolve the job boycott and release the personal protective equipment held in Kenya Medical Supplies Authority warehouses.
Committee chairperson Sabina Chege accused governors of being a stumbling block in ending the stalemate.
She said the doctors, nurses, and clinical officers are realistic in their demands.
“It is time we had a Health Commission to address the medics’ welfare. The commission would have by now resolved the stalemate. The Health Committee is urging the Health CS to have the strike resolved before Christmas Day to avoid a disastrous situation posed by festive season attractions,” said Ms Chege.
Reporting by Nasibo Kabale, Winnie Atieno, Vitalis Kimutai Shaban Makokha, Elizabeth Ojina, George Odiwuor, Phyllis Musasia, Simon Ciuri, George Munene, Mercy Mwende, James Murimi, Jane Ndiritu and Waikwa Maina
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