Health crisis looms in Busia as doctors kick off strike

Health crisis looms in Busia as doctors kick off strike

A screengrab of doctors in Busia County staging a go-slow on July 14, 2023.

Doctors and other healthcare workers in Busia County have formally kicked off their strike following the lapse of a 14-day notice issued to the devolved unit’s leadership dating June 29, 2023.

The healthcare workers last month issued a joint strike notice through their umbrella bodies; the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), as well as the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO).

Taking to the streets on Friday, the essential service providers lamented of – among other things – delayed promotions, lack of sufficient equipment, poor working conditions, as well as salary arrears.

They marched to the office of Busia Governor Paul Otuoma as well as that of the Public Service Commission (PSC) where they presented their grievances.

PSC Chair Michael Onyura however implored the healthcare practitioners to return to duty, promising that their complaints were being worked.

“May I request the staff at the medical department and the union to please not go on strike since all the issues that they raised are being addressed. I’m sure that within the time that we agreed in the last meeting, all these points and issues will have been addressed,” said Onyura.

The medical professionals however vowed to abscond duty and remain home until all their grievances have been tackled to their satisfaction.

In their joint strike notice last month, they lamented that they had made numerous efforts to present their cries to Governor Otuoma in a bid to reach an amicable solution, to no success.

They want over 200 healthcare workers who in 2022 received promotion letters that were however not effected and hence had accrued arrears to be promoted immediately and their dues paid in full.

The healthcare workers also want interviews for another 100 of their colleagues who were deemed suitable for promotion to be held promptly.

Further, they want the devolved unit to replace medical practitioners who have since exited the service, and also hire more to curb the increasing staff shortage and increase quality of service delivery.

“Presently, in the main county referral facility alone, there is a crippling lack of essential commodities both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical; forcing patients to spend out of pocket to purchase these items for their own use despite some having NHIF and/or Linda Mama. The state in peripheral facilities is even worse inadvertently leading to poor health outcomes,” read the letter.

“This absurd state has culminated into Busia County Referral Hospital alone suffering more than 12 stillbirths and 2 maternal deaths within the past 30 days. Subsequently, working in such an environment not only demotivates and demoralizes our members but also takes a great toll on their mental health.”

KUCO National Secretary General George Gibore on Friday however announced that the clinical officers’ had since been suspended for 90 days after a deal to resume negotiations on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Ministry of Health.

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KMPDU Busia County Doctors strike

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