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September 22, 2017

Nairobi Hospital closes for 48hrs in solidarity with jailed KMPDU officials

Doctors demonstrate outside the Supreme Court in Nairobi over the jailing of union officials, February 15, 2017. /COLLINS KWEYU
Doctors demonstrate outside the Supreme Court in Nairobi over the jailing of union officials, February 15, 2017. /COLLINS KWEYU

Nairobi Hospital has closed its facilities for 48 hours in solidarity with private hospitals after seven KMPDU officials were jailed for one month.

The Labour court jailed union officials for contempt of court on Monday, over the strike that began on December 5, 2016.

They are KMPDU chair Samuel Oroko, secretary general Ouma Oluga, treasurer Daisy Korir and deputy treasurer Evelyne Chege.

Others are Allan Ochanji, Mwachonda Chibandzi and Titus Ondoro.

Judge Hellen Wasilwa lifted the suspension on the one month sentence she had imposed after the officials failed to comply with the court's conditions.

[VIDEO] Doctors' union officials jailed one month for contempt of court

More on this: Shaved prisoner Oluga receives guests as doctors' jail term begins

Nairobi Hospital issued a statement on Wednesday announcing a 48-hour closure of its main hospital, Warwick and Galleria facilities.

"We will not be available at our various stations for duty for 48 hours starting from 9am," read the statement signed by the in-patient manager, assistant coordinator and head of clinical services.

Sources at the hospital confirmed the shut-down.

A doctor at the facility said one doctor, who heads the Accident and Emergency Unit, was attending to patients in critical condition.

"All the doctors are in solidarity with the jailed medics," the doctor told the Star on phone.

Another doctor said: "I am not seeing patients until the 48-hour period passes. I cannot sit here and treat patients yet my colleagues are locked up."

AAR, Mater Hospital and St Gertrude also closed their facilities.

No patient was allowed at the AAR facility in Westlands; a spot check by the Star found that patients were told to leave the premises.

"We do not have a doctor at the moment. We only have a pediatrician. We are waiting for the doctors to call off the strike," a doctor at AAR said.

Kenya Medical Association head Jacqueline Kitulu said on Tuesday that doctors in Kenya's private healthcare system will protest the jailing of the seven officials.

"Further instructions will be issued should the doctors still be in jail at the expiry of this period," she said, and asked colleagues to demonstrate at courts around the country.

All private hospitals at the Coast were closed on Tuesday at the start of their solidarity protest.

Consultant doctors registered "extreme disgust" and asked the national and county governments to treat the health crisis with the urgency it deserves.

Read: Private Coast doctors suspend services for 48 hours, want jailed officials released

The facilities are yet to say whether the Court of Appeal's order for the seven officials to be released immediately will cause them to open their facilities to the public.

Judges Wanjiru Karanja, Hannah Okwengu and Jamilla Mohamed said negotiations will take place over seven days and that parties will return to court on February 23.

More on this: Appeals court frees doctors' union officials, talks to resume

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