Private hospitals in western Kenya have recalled doctors and nurses who are on leave in order to cope with the huge number of patients.
At the same time, governors say they will not sign a pay deal with striking nurses in public hospitals.
The number of patients at private hospitals in Nandi, Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kakamega and Bungoma counties has dramatically shot up. Some hospitals said they were running out of drugs.
“We have recalled medics on leave and ordered for more essential drugs,” Gerhard Schumacher, the medical director of AIC Kapsowar Hospital in Elgeyo Marakwet said.
Amos Ng’etich, the secretary-general of the Nandi branch of the Kenya National Union of Nurses, said the issue of promotions and increase in allowances must be addressed before the strike is called off.
Residents of Trans Nzoia seeking treatment in public hospitals in the county were turned away.
Willy Sifuna, the secretary-general of the county’s KNUN branch, blamed the Council of Governors and Salaries and Remuneration Commission for being a hurdle to the signing of the collective bargaining agreement.
Some patients in Uasin Gishu have resorted to traditional medicine.
Herbalists from as far away as Kilgoris, Kajiado and Narok have flocked Eldoret town to cash in on the dire situation.
“Some people doubt our medicine but, with the strike, many are coming to us,” Mr Kaika ole Katei said.
On Tuesday, Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu blamed the strike on the hard stance taken by governors and the nurses’ union.
Dr Mailu absolved the government from blame, saying the suffering and deaths witnessed were a result of both sides refusing to give dialogue a chance.
“The union and the Council of Governors should put aside their differences and talk in order to end the suffering,” the minister said after presiding over the groundbreaking ceremony for Kabarak Teaching, Research and Referral Mission Hospital.
He said the SRC had given guidance to both parties in March and this month on the best way to end the stalemate.
The CS welcomed the decision by the Central Organisation of Trade Unions to mediate and end the strike.
In Nakuru, nurses held a meeting at the Railway grounds and vowed to continue with the work boycott.
Cyprine Odera, the secretary-general of the county’s KNUN branch, said the government must honour the salary deal.
Like elsewhere, patients flocked to private hospitals as the strike entered its ninth day.
Nakuru Level Five Hospital remained deserted. Bondeni Maternity, a wing of the Level Five Hospital, remained closed. Patients were referred elsewhere.
The situation was the same in Samburu.
Maralal Referral Hospital’s medical superintendent Robert Nato said most of the cases received were only stabilised then referred to private institutions.
Report by Barnabas Bii, Gerald Bwisa, Francis Mureithi, Magdalene Wanja and Godfrey Oundoh.