Health workers’ strike bites in five counties

Tuesday August 19 2014

Jane Mbungu, a nurse at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi, attending to new born babies on August 19, 2014. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI

Jane Mbungu, a nurse at Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi, attending to new born babies on August 19, 2014. Workers in Nairobi County hospitals are not on strike. PHOTO | BILLY MUTAI | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By REBECCA OKWANY
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Doctors and health workers in five counties who have not received their July salaries are still on strike.

Mombasa, Machakos, Busia, Uasin Gishu and Kiambu counties are yet to pay employees, according the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU) chairman Dr Victor Ng’ani.

In other parts of the country, health workers reported on duty as usual.

“Apart from salaries, workers are also facing other issues such as delayed promotions, arbitrary transfers, nepotism, cronyism and discrimination based one’s county of origin,” Dr Ng’ani told the Nation by phone.

The medic says he wants an independent commission formed — the Health Service Commission — to address issues facing doctors and other health workers in the devolved system of governance.

However, the Cabinet Secretary for Health, Mr James Macharia, is adamant that the ministry will not allow the formation of a commission as “it is unconstitutional and goes against the spirit of devolution”.

“This will lead to the centralisation of health services. The ministry is drafting a Cabinet memo on the matter, which will soon be tabled in Parliament,” Mr Macharia said.

NATIONAL STRIKE

Dr Ng’ani said that if the CS does not give in, health workers will embark on a national strike.

“If the commission is not formed, salary payment should revert back to National Government,” he said.

In Kisumu, doctors went about their duties, but interns did not. Doctors were at work at the Kisumu East District and Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral hospitals.

At the Naivasha Sub-County Hospital, medical practitioners had a hectic time handling the large number of patients who turned up, as interns continued with their go-slow.

But at the Nakuru General Hospital, services went on as usual, following a last minute deal.

In Kitui, intern doctors and nurses have not worked for the last two weeks over unpaid salaries since April.

Mandera health workers have threatened to strike if their demands, made to county Health Executive Hassan Eymoy, are not met.

Nyamira medical practitioners issued a one-week ultimatum for their two-month salaries to be paid.

Intern doctors at Nyeri’s in level 4 and Level 5 hospitals stayed away.

In the North Rift, operations at most of the health facilities went on as usual.

In Nandi County, more than 800 workers have been paid their July salaries. At Kocholia District Hospital in Busia, in Pokot and in Trans Nzoia, it was business as usual.

Additional reports by Mike Mwaniki, Florah Koech, Tom Matoke, Oscar Kakai, Raphael Wanjala, Philip Bwayo, Evelyne Simiyu, James Kariuki, Macharia Mwangi, Angela Oketch and Faith Nyamai