Workers’ strike hits mental patients as officials play hardball

Paul (not his real name) is pensive as he sits in his parent’s house in Mombasa.

The 34-year-old, a mental patient, has been hoping that the good news – the nurses’ strike has been called off – would come, but it has not nearly 100 days later.
Paul has been battling the illness since 2014 and is among the more than 30 patients who were forcefully discharged from the Port Reitz District Mental Hospital in Mombasa on June 7.

His sister recounted on Friday that Paul became sick due to drug addiction.

“He has been receiving treatment at the hospital since 2014 where he was admitted, but he was discharged and has suffered due to the strike,” she said.

His mental condition has weighed down on the family.

“It is really sad to see him suffering due to lack of services at the only mental facility in this region.

“We have been forced to hire the services of a private doctor who give him modecate and chlorpromazine injections,” the Kongowea resident said, noting the family cannot afford it any more.

Port Reitz facility is the second largest public mental health institution in the country after Mathari in Nairobi.

Nurses and clinical officers offer outpatient and inpatient services.

However, its doors have remained closed since the nurses’ strike started.

The Nation met another mental patient, a 25-year-old man, who, accompanied by his brother, had sought treatment at the facility.

“His condition worsened, we rushed him here only to be told by the guards there are no services,” Mr Omar Abdhallah said.

At the hospital, guards advised patients to seek treatment elsewhere.

“Where do you take a mental patient when his condition worsens during this strike? There is no private mental facility offering the service,” a 56-year-old man who had taken his depressed son to the institution said.

The mental hospital serves Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta Mandera and Garissa counties.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco) county representative, Mr Joshua Mpeshoka, said Mombasa has more than 100 clinical officers but less than 20 are deployed at the institution.

“We will go back to work only when our our profession and education level are acknowledged,” he said.


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