Striking Kisumu health workers plan grand protest

The staff say they will not resume work until their demands are met

In Summary

• The strike began on Wednesday last week.

• Workers say it will get stronger by the day.

KNUN deputy secretary general Maurice Opetu
KNUN deputy secretary general Maurice Opetu
Kisumu health workers in a demo
Kisumu health workers in a demo

Health services remain disrupted in Kisumu county as workers stay away from their stations.

The staff say they will not resume work until their demands are met. They said their strike, which began on Wednesday last week, is on and will get stronger by the day.

They demand salaries dating back to July. Also demanded is promotion to higher job groups. Those on strike include nurses, doctors and clinicians. The Kenya National Union of Nurses said they will have a grand demo tomorrow, accompanied by a band.  Some patients have been abandoned in facilities. They have only their relatives to depend on.

Knun deputy secretary-general Maurice Opetu yesterday said they met to organise the grand demo.

At the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital yesterday, only clinical officers and some nurses were attending to patients. At the county, Lumumba and Migosi hospitals, local NGOs offered services to HIV-Aids patients.

In some facilities, the security guards manning hospital gates sent away patients because there was nobody to attend to them.

Opetu said they had yet to engage with the county government. The county is unbothered by the strike and the suffering of patients, he added. Residents are optimistic that the health sector crisis will be fixed soon following the passage of the Sh11.7 billion budget by the county assembly.

Mary Akoth said she could not risk taking her mother home because she might develop complications while travelling. She has been nursing her at the Kisumu County Hospital.

“I will nurse my mother in the hospital. I’m optimistic that this strike will come to an end soon since we heard that the assembly has finally passed the budget,” she said.

But Opetu said nothing will change. “Even if they pay our salaries today, there is nothing that will change or help us because most of the health workers are a worried lot, with various banks giving them demand letters over their loans and service,” he said.

He accused Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o’s administration of failing to adhere to the agreement it had reached with health workers, including the full payment of their July salaries and bank loan penalties.

Opetu said they agreed the county would take care of the penalties on loans after remittance of loan and statutory deductions were delayed.

(Edited by F'Orieny)