50 MORE DOCTORS NEEDED

Kirinyaga as health officials issue seven-day strike notice over understaffing

Workers' unions want the county government to hire additional staff to improve quality of healthcare services

In Summary

• Unionists say Kerugoya Hospital has not met the minimum standards of cleanliness

• They want more trained casual workers employed to manage waste disposal

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and deputy Peter Ndambiri at Kerugoya Hospital on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.
Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru and deputy Peter Ndambiri at Kerugoya Hospital on Wednesday, May 15, 2019.
Image: COURTESY

Kirinyaga health practitioners want the county government to hire more staff for all facilities to improve the quality of services to residents. 

They will go on strike after seven days if Governor Anne Waiguru's administration does not meet their demands and have issued a notice to the county department. They include doctors, nurses, technicians, and clinical officers. 

Central region Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union secretary general Gor Goody on Tuesday said all health facilities will come to a standstill.

"We demand that the county employees a further 50 doctors since 22 doctors are not enough. We've also seen a situation where we have only one nurse on duty in our health facilities. This calls for action, failing which we will close all the hospitals from the gates to the last department,'' she said.

Goody was accompanied by fellow unionists. She said Kerugoya Hospital has not met the minimum standards of cleanliness. Water used to clean the wards is disposed of in the fields, hence exposing their members to infections, Goody said.

"We even have a nurse at the hospital who is admitted with Hepatitis B. We don't want to continue exposing our members to such conditions," she added.

The medic wants more trained casual workers employed to manage waste disposal, accusing the county of using untrained staff to clean facilities.

For her part, Kenya National Union of Nurses Kirinyaga chapter official Wambui Karege said most nurses work on contract and demanded they be hired on permanent and pensionable terms.

"We're calling on the county to consider that within the seven-day period. Let the county government know we should be respected. We are not people to be called to the office to be intimidated and abused. Respect is paramount," she said.

Karege dismissed claims by Governor Waiguru that the county is overstaffed with nurses. Waiguru had said at Kerugoya Hospital that there was one nurse per two beds. Karege urged her to go to the ground and find out.

"Sometimes we have only one nurse on night duty in our facilities, including the Kerugopya Level 4 Hospital. Do you think that would be possible if the nurses were overstaffed?" she asked.

Moses Thuo, the secretary general of the Kenya Laboratories and Technicians Union, regretted that Kerugoya Hospital has only one working laboratory. Other labs have broken equipment, h said.

"We have to keep sending patients to private laboratories where they spend more. It's up to the county to meet all these needs in the seven days. If they don't, we'll go on strike.'

The Waiguru administration has blamed the previous administration of Governor Joseph Ndathi of letting half of the doctors take study leave, leaving the county with only 22 doctors.

(Edited by F'Orieny)