• Several patients in critical condition were discharged from the wards and ICU
• The health workers protest demanding job confirmation and promotions
Three people have died for lack of medical services after health workers went on strike in Baringo county five days ago.
A middle-aged woman died in her Barwessa home in Baringo North subcounty on Saturday, few hours after being discharged from the county referral hospital in Kabarnet.
“The body was transported back to the hospital mortuary on Saturday night,” a source at the health facility told the Star on Sunday.
The woman was among several patients who were discharged from the wards after the workers commenced strike on Wednesday, demanding job confirmation and promotions.
Another unattended patient — a high school student suffering from pneumonia — rushed to the hospital from Marigat, Baringo South lost his life on Saturday.
The source said there was no health staff to attend to emergency cases in Marigat Subcounty Hospital.
Family members said they desperately watched their loved one die as they could not rush him to a nearby private facility for lack of money.
The third victim, a 35-year old man from Kaprogonya estate in Kabarnet, Baringo Central had breathing complications and swelling of the legs. He died on Saturday.
“We fear we may lose more patients if the issue is not addressed urgently to reinstate the health workers,” a support staffer said.
The maternity wing is the worst hit as expectant women are being attended to by intern nurses, she said. Many are opting to deliver at home.
But the county referral hospital administrator Michael Rotich said the cases were not because the workers are on strike. “They could as well occur with or without the ongoing workers strike,” he said.
On Wednesday, the health workers ordered the patients out of the facilities and issued the county government 24 hours to address their demands.
“We demand nothing less than our immediate job confirmation and promotions,” nurses association national vice-chair Moses Chirchir said.
Chirchir said on Friday that their ultimatum elapsed on Thursday midnight while the county administration declined to address their issues.
However, several patients have been left unattended to in various health facilities across the county among them Kabarnet, Eldama-Ravine, Marigat, Chemolingot and Mogotio.
Waiting bays and sickbeds were left empty after the patients were ordered out. “We shall all leave and make the facilities ghost zones,” Chirchir said.
However, the worsening situation has left the patients helpless in wards especially those in the Intensive Care Unit.
On Friday, a frustrated Evans Korir who broke his leg in a road accident said he could not get served at Kabarnet hospital.
“I don’t know where to run to. My leg is paining and the situation seems to get even worse, but I pity my fellows in the ICU,” Korir said.
He urged Governor Stanley Kiptis to consider resolving the pending health workers issues so they can resume their duties.
The medics demand job confirmation, promotion, redesignation and proper Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE).
They also demanded that each health staff be given two PPE gowns, two surgical masks and goggles per day.
Among them are clinical officers, nurses, public health, nutritionists and physiotherapists. Doctors have threatened to join them on Monday.
“Governor Kiptis should come out clearly and address our issues so we can put to rest the strike and go back to work,” Chirchir said.
Baringo Health executive Mary Panga said the department is ready to confirm and re-designate them.
“But for the issue of promotions this is difficult at the moment because of limited resources,” Panga said.
The health boss said the county needs at least Sh270 million to promote health workers of all cadres.
“Currently the county's wage bill stands at 56 per cent and if we decide to promote the health staff then it will automatically shoot to 60 per cent,” she said.
She said with the meagre resources they have, they cannot raise these funds at the moment.
Health chief officer Dr Gideon Toromo pleaded with the worker to bear with the situation and get back to work as their issues are being discussed.