At least 10 die as nurses strike persists

Every time Dr Wiston Ongalo looks at a picture of his son, all he has is memories of the eight months they spent together.

Just like any responsible father, Dr Ongalo would do a lot for Shamin.

He would spend most of his free time with the boy playing.

Dr Ongalo and his wife Haesa Merlyne Luhombo had great plans for Shamin.

They hoped the boy would grow to become a successful and responsible man. 

This dream was shattered on Tuesday when Shamin lost his life in circumstances that could have been easily avoided.

Fighting tears, Dr Ongalo narrated what transpired on that fateful day.

As was his routine, he woke up early and prepared for work.

When he was just about to leave, his son, who had contracted malaria, began convulsing.

He administered some medicine that would help lower Shamin’s temperature and then rushed him to Nala Hospital in Kakamega.

Unfortunately, the private hospital did not have blood and so Dr Ongalo took the boy to his place of work — Kakamega County Referral Hospital.

Desperate, he rushed to the casualty department but there was no nurse around since they had taken to the streets, protesting the refusal by the government to sign a collective bargaining agreement.

The doctor dashed to the outpatient department to get oxygen cylinders.

“There was no emergency tray. There was no key to open the room where the cylinders were being kept. We even wanted to access the blood bank but it was not possible because the stores were locked,” he said.

He added that Shamin would be alive today if the striking nurses had left the keys to the rooms meant for the cylinders and blood.

“It is really painful. Since the strike began, I have gone out of my way to help very many patients,” he said.

Shamin’s mother could not hold back tears during the interview.

“We tried all we could but lost him. My son died a very painful death,” Mrs Luhombo said.

And she recalled the good moments she had with her son.

“He was a jolly boy, ever happy and smiling,” she said.

The boy was buried today, on the same day he would have celebrated his eighth month.

At least 10 people have died as the nurses’ strike entered its fifth day today.

Council of Governors chairman Josphat Nanok said it would cost the taxpayer Sh40.3 billion to implement the CBA in the next four years.

“This translates to around Sh10 billion annually. It is unsustainable, bearing in mind that there are other workers in this country,” Mr Nanok said.

He added that the council proposed an allocation of Sh323 billion for counties but the Senate offered Sh314 billion and the National Assembly Sh291 billion.

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