REPRIEVE FOR PATIENTS

Nyong'o pays health workers, directs them to resume work

Patients unable to afford treatment in private facilities have been forced to travel to Kakamega, Vihiga, Kericho or Siaya

In Summary

• Health and Sanitation executive Judith Attyang’ said the county has met salary obligations made in a back-to-work agreement signed on September 26. 

• In a letter copied to all union-represented health workers, Attyang’ said the move will end the suffering of patients witnessed in the last couple of weeks.

Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong'o and Health executive Judith Attyang'
Image: MAURICE ALAL

The Kisumu county government has finally paid its striking health workers and ordered them to resume work immediately. 

Health and Sanitation executive Judith Attyang’ said the county has met salary obligations made in a back-to-work agreement signed on September 26. 

In a letter copied to all union-represented health workers, Attyang’ said the move will end the suffering of patients witnessed in the last couple of weeks.

“All workers must report to their working stations at 7.30am and 8am respectively failure which it will be treated as abscondment of duty and they shall be firmly dealt with in accordance with the provision of the law,” she said.

Health services in Kisumu have worsened as doctors stayed away from hospitals fro three weeks over salary arrears.  Nurses have, on the hand, been on and off strikes since July. 

Patients unable to afford treatment in private facilities have been forced to travel to Kakamega, Vihiga, Kericho or Siaya to get help.

In most facilities, however, the sick are in dire need of care. At Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, only a few nurses attend to patients.

The Kisumu, Ahero and Muhoroni subcounty hospitals had most beds empty as patients deserted the facilities. 

Some families have taken their loved ones back home even as residents threatened to stage a demonstration to push Governor Anyang' Nyong'o to fix the crisis.

A senior health worker told the Star on condition of anonymity that some workers have not been paid for three months, others two and another group one month.

"As we speak, workers are slowly returning to work. But the health services at various facilities have yet to resume normally."

The county government failed to adhere to the return-to-work agreement it had signed with workers on September 26.

In a statement signed by KNUN, CUCO, KNUMLO, UKCS, and KMPDU, the health workers said the county was not committed to honouring their demands.

"As at now, there is no money in the workers' accounts. We, therefore, advise workers to stay away from their workplaces until all salaries are paid,” a letter signed on October 4 read.

KNUN branch secretary Maurice Opetu on Sunday told the Star their position still stands.

The governor's press director Aloice Ager said the county government signed an agreement with the unions to have all the dues and accrued deductions for the past three months paid by October 4.

"This was done and all the dues were paid on Friday at exactly 11.47am. The county workers must, therefore, consult their accountants during their banks' working hours," he said.

The KMPDU urged its members to keep away from public hospitals until their demands are met, noting that they have not been paid for two months.

The directive issued by Nyanza chairman Lameck Omweri came just a day after health workers called off their strike following an agreement with the county government.

In a letter sent to Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Omweri said the payment of salaries and remittance of deductions were not negotiable.

He dismissed the return-to-work agreement as an alien document.

"We were treated to yet another comical and regrettable return-to-work formula that the county government of Kisumu signed with itself on September 26. That is an alien document to KMPDU,” he said.

Omweri said doctors were suffering after failing to get their salaries.

The Thursday agreement was signed by county secretary Godfrey Kigochi, chief health officer Dickens Onyango and union officials.