Woman loses five babies as medics strike in Taita Taveta continues

Friday December 23 2016

Bahati Tabu is overcome by grief as she

Bahati Tabu is overcome by grief as she narrates how she lost her five babies due to the ongoing health workers’ strike at her home in Bahati Village in Taveta Taita Taveta County. PHOTO | LUCY MKANYIKA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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A woman in Bahati village, Taita Taveta County is mourning the loss of her five new born babies after they died in a Tanzanian hospital on Wednesday.

Bahati Tabu was forced to seek maternity services in the neighbouring country due to the ongoing health workers strike in the county.

The 37-year-old mother of 10 was rushed to Kisanga Dispensary in Holili, Tanzania after she developed pregnancy complications but was later referred to Kwa Minja Hospital in Himo.

In an interview with the Nation, she blamed the ongoing medical practitioners strike for the loss of her babies.
"I went into labour and rushed to Taveta sub-county hospital but the watchman told me there was no nurse or doctor to help me," she said.

“Medical officers at the dispensary in Holili could not handle my situation and referred me to another hospital in Himo,” she said.

Ms Tabu travelled to the next health facility on a boda boda.

She said she was unable to raise fare and hospital fees forcing her to use inappropriate means of transport for a distance of 10 kilometres.

“Good Samaritans gave me fare and some little money for hospital charges. I don't have employment and I knew maternity charges are free in Kenya,” she said.

According to Ms Tabu, the hospitals lacked incubators for her underweight babies.

As the nurses strike in the county entered its ninth day on Friday, ongoing talks between the county government and county Kenya National Union of Nurses officials have continued to hit a deadlock.

County assembly, led by speaker Meshack Wa Maghanga and assembly’s Health committee chairperson Godfrey Mwambi on Friday summoned the two parties to appear before the house in an effort to end the strike.

Mr Maghanga blamed the county government’s Health Services department for laxity in implementing a signed agreement between the union and the department.

The nurses who defied orders to return to work after the end of the nationwide strike are protesting over unpaid allowances and promotions.

Mr Maghanga accused the Health officials of using millions of shillings to cater for charges for maternity and emergency cases in private hospitals instead of using the funds to pay the nurses.

“We must do everything to ensure that the nurses get back to work as soon as possible. We cannot play games with people’s lives which being lost due to lack of affordable medical services,” he said.

At the same time, KNUN county secretary, Boniface Mrashui said the nurses will not resume duty until their demands are met.

“ We have been taken round and rounds for many years. This time round we are clever. We will go back to work when money in our bank accounts,” he said.

Acting Health Services Chief Officer, Dr John Logedi, said the department will disburse over sh3 million to nurse’s accounts for their arrears.

“This money will reflect in their December salary,” he said.