Doctors threaten to resign next week if their demands are not met

Wednesday December 7 2011

Gideon Maundu | NATION Mothers with their infants at the Bomu Mkomani Clinic where they were transferred from government hospitals where doctors were absent for the third day running. Most patients have turned to private hospitals as the strike by medical practitioners has virtually crippled services at public institutions.

Gideon Maundu | NATION Mothers with their infants at the Bomu Mkomani Clinic where they were transferred from government hospitals where doctors were absent for the third day running. Most patients have turned to private hospitals as the strike by medical practitioners has virtually crippled services at public institutions. 

By DANIEL NYASSY [email protected]

Doctors working in public hospitals in Mombasa have said they are ready to work elsewhere if their demands are not met.

Coast branch secretary of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Abidan Mwachi said on Wednesday they will soon resign if salary negotiations fail.

“We were to release our resignation letters this week, but decided to give the government one more week. Now all the 2,300 doctors in Kenya are drafting the resignation letters, which we shall hand over to the minister on Wednesday next week,” he said.

Dr Mwachi said there was no looking back in their demands and that they were highly qualified and ready to work elsewhere.

We are marketable

“We are ready to work even in banks or other places because we have the papers. We are marketable because we are highly qualified. If our government is not ready to listen to us, we will go,” he said.

The doctors are also demanding that health standards and working conditions be improved before they return to work.

“It is sad for doctors to see thousands of patients dying from easily manageable conditions,” Dr Mwachi said.

He cited the pathetic condition of Coast General Hospital’s peadriatics department and the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

“The child mortality rate is very high at the Coast General Hospital. From the congested wards and nurseries, we record at least 20 child deaths daily. This is unacceptable,” he said.

At the same time, an expectant mother at the Kakamega Provincial Hospital was rushed to St Elizabeth Mission Hospital, Mukumu, for a Caesarean section on Tuesday after developing complications in the absence of doctors to attend to her.

At the Kisumu District hospital, the Nation witnessed an expectant woman being rushed to surgery after she started bleeding. She was operated on by the hospital director, Dr Aggrey Akula and other clinical officers.

“We cannot ignore emergency cases, it is our duty to prevent deaths,” Dr Akula said.

Operations at the 110-bed capacity Longisa District Hospital of Bomet County were paralysed on Tuesday.

The institution’s medical superintendent, Dr Zakary Kasipoi, who was however on duty carrying out operations at the theatre, said all the doctors handling critical diagnosis and other medical services that required their attention had gone on strike.

“The situation is so bad at the hospital that we have been forced to refer critical cases to the privately-owned Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet Central Division,” Dr Kasipoi said.

However, no deaths had been reported since the strike began on Monday, he said.

A check in Gucha, Kenyenya, Nyamache and Nyamarambe district hospitals revealed that no doctor reported on duty and patients were being attended to by nurses and clinical officers.

Healthcare services at the Kisii Level-5 Hospital’s outpatient wing were going on at a slow pace with clinical officers and nurses attending to patients with minor complications.

At Rachuonyo District Hospital, Ramula and Kendu Bay Sub-district hospitals, nurses and clinical officers attended to patients.

Refer critical cases

But two doctors from Kuria West District differed with their striking colleagues and reported to work.

Dr Erick Omondi and Dr Jacob Onditi of Kehancha District Hospital said the 300 per cent pay-rise was untenable given the prevailing economic circumstances.

“The demand is unrealistic and should not be taken seriously. It is unfortunate that Kenyans are dying because of insensitive demands by our national union officials,” Dr Onditi said.

Additional reports by Geoffrey Rono, Benson Nyagesiba, Otieno Owida, Jackline Moraa, Benson Amadala, Elisha Otieno and Brian Yonga.