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Poor patients suffer as health workers’ strike begins

The mother of a 40-year-old man admitted to Port Reitz District Hospital in Mombasa in a coma begged doctors to treat her son.

But the health workers at the second largest public hospital in the county had begun their strike on Monday.

A distraught Ms Lucy Mwangi could only hope the doctors would at least prescribe some medications for her son.

“They have discharged my son, but where do I go with a patient who is in a coma? Other patients have left but I can’t leave with him in this condition. Just look at him,” she said in tears.

Ms Mwangi said her son, who suffers from depression, needs urgent medical attention.

“He was admitted on December 1 and doctors said they wanted to monitor him closely. But now that they have asked us to leave. What do I do? If only the President could know how much we are suffering he would do something,” she said.

Most patients who were turned away from public hospitals in Mombasa, urged the government to heed the health workers’ pleas.

Ms Josephine Bahati, who took her one-month-old child for immunisation at Tudor District Hospital, was turned away by cleaners.

An official at the hospital told the Nation the administration decided to send home all the expectant mothers due for delivery after the health workers downed tools.

 “They said they don’t want to see any deaths so they opted to discharge all expectant mothers in wee hours. They were around 15,” said the official, who sought anonymity.

HOSPITAL DESERTED

The busy hospital was deserted, with arriving patients being told to go away.

At the Coast Provincial General Hospital, the chief administrator, Dr Iqbal Khandwalla, and his team, consisting of some doctors and nurses, were forced to treat patients after the health workers downed their tools.

When the Nation visited the facility, Dr Khandwalla and the other officials were doing routine checks in different wards.

Most of the wards at the largest hospital in the region remained deserted following the countrywide strike.

On Monday morning, the majority of patients were being discharged. A source revealed that most patients had been asked to seek treatment in private hospitals due to the strike.

In the children’s ward, only four were still admitted as more than 20 beds were empty.

Ms Jacklyn Akinyi, a 22-year-old mother, was disappointed that the doctors could not attend to her child.

A patient, Mr Masinyu Kariuki, said he was admitted from Sunday and had asked to be seen by a doctor, in vain.

A few health workers reported to work at Tudor and Likoni district hospitals, but stayed in their offices.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Coast branch, secretary general, Dr Abidan Mwachi, said doctors would stay away until their salary and other demands are met by the health authorities.

Mr Kariuki whose left side of the body had been paralysed said he had been forced to cope with the pain because of the strike.

“I have not been attended to not even a doctor to prescribe some medicines to ease the pain. The government and the doctors should consider our plights. We are suffering because of the strike. I am lying here helplessly, what do I do now, and I cannot afford a private hospital,” said Mr Kariuki.

This came as Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Coast branch secretary general, Dr Abidan Mwachi said doctors in the region will stay put until their demands are met.

ADDRESS GRIEVANCES

Speaking outside the Coast General Hospital where they had been joined by their counterpart striking nurses under the Kenyan National Union of Nurse (Knun), Dr Mwachi accused the government of playing “cat and mouse” game over the issues.

“It is the government which is on strike because they have decided not address our grievances and we are saying that no doctor will be seen in any of the public facilities until the CBA deal is met,” said Dr Mwachi.

He said more than 300 doctors from the region had joined the strike, with majority having travelled to Nairobi to join their counterparts for the same.

On his part, Knun Mombasa branch secretary, Peter Maroko accused the government of being ignorant on the issue and added that they will not call off the strike.

“We feel sorry for the public because the government has failed, we gave them ample time to deliberate on the issue but they did not see it meaning and we are saying that the strike continues even if it for five months,” said Mr Maroko.

The county executive in charge of health Mohammed Abdi said the county government is trying to substitute the striking health workers with doctors at managerial levels.

“All our managers in all public health hospitals are doctors so they are substituting, but we are going round to check the situation. This is a national thing we have no industrial issues with our health workers because we have cleared almost everything,” he said.

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