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Striking medics are like Al-Shabaab, deputy governor says

Vihiga Deputy Governor Caleb Amaswache has likened striking health workers to terrorist group Al-Shabaab.

Mr Amaswache claimed that the health workers are using the ill as “human shields” towards their quest for higher pay.

“People who took oath to protect lives are the same people who are using the same as a shield to get money. There is no difference between them and Al-Shabaab who kill with an intention,” said Mr Amaswache.

He added: “I want to tell the doctors and nurses that the blood of the people who are dying will be a curse to haunt them in their homes.”

Nurses countrywide are on their ninth day of their strike despite differing directives from their union officials about the status of the strike.

The national governing council has rejected a Sh7 billion deal signed by some union officials and Ministry of Health on Sunday saying their grievances have not been addressed.

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Health services in public hospitals remain paralysed after doctors also joined the strike demanding for better pay, promotions and good working conditions.

However, Mr Amaswache’s boss, Governor Moses Akaranga, has downplayed his comments saying health workers should not be belittled.

“Let us not belittle them. We are in a big problem. I know we have to engage them and dialogue with them. I am talking to the union leadership and I know before the end of this week, our health workers in Vihiga will resume duty,” said Mr Akaranga.

He went on: “I regret that patients seeking medication in all public hospitals are subjected to untold suffering after doctors and nurses downed their tools to demand for salary increase among other things.”

Added the county chief: “Peaceful protests and strikes are a basic human right provided by Human Rights Treaties and guaranteed by the Kenyan Constitution of 2010.”

He however noted that Kenyans had been thrown into dilemma between the rights of the striking health practitioners and the rights of patients to access medical treatment and emergency services among health services.

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Mr Akaranga used the better part of last week engaging union officials in dialogue as they sought to strike a deal on amicably ending the strike.

But the utterances by his deputy could threaten to scuttle the talks.

Mr Akaranga however said the National Government through the Ministry of Health entered into an understanding with health workers without involving governors yet the health docket is a devolved function.

“I want to support a demand by my colleagues that the national Government releases the funds they are holding on to counties for effective service delivery,” he said.

Mr Akaranga further said some of the current developments in the health sector are a creation to divert the public attention from the over Sh5 billion scandal at the Health ministry.

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He said: “Some people are working hard to confuse the public about devolution and make it look bad and not working.”

He added: “This is application of the confusion theory. Look at the timing of the strike by health workers. It is meant to overshadow the Sh5 billion scandal at the ministry of Health and give more attention to the counties and brand governors as thieves. No one is now talking about the Sh5 billion scandal.”

He took a swipe at MPs and Senators whom he accused of demanding that the health docket be reverted back to the National Government.

He challenged the government to fully fund all the devolved functions saying funds should follow devolved functions.

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