Treatment Stopped as Health Workers Strike

  • Nurses protest outside Afya House in Nairobi during a nationwide strike on September 11, 2017.
    Nurses protest outside Afya House in Nairobi during a nationwide strike on September 11, 2017.
    Daily Nation
  • Inpatients were discharged prematurely and treatment services stopped after medical workers downed their tools on the morning of Monday, April, 15.

    The medics attached to Emuhaya Sub County Referral Hospital in Vihiga County announced the impending strike on allegations that the government had not paid them in months.

    Kenyans.co.ke spoke to Caleb Mabwa whose daughter had been discharged from the hospital on Tuesday, April 14 before completing her course of treatment.

    Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo pictured at a Council of Governors (CoG) meeting at Mövenpick Hotel, Nairobi on January 20, 2020
    Vihiga Governor Wilber Ottichilo pictured at a Council of Governors (CoG) meeting at Mövenpick Hotel, Nairobi on January 20, 2020
    Simon Kiragu
    Kenyans.co.ke

    He stated that the hospital staff had discharged his daughter along with other patients owing to the cessation of services.

    "She was discharged yesterday but she was still unwell. We are just waiting on medication now," stated Caleb.

    Caleb's daughter had been admitted to the hospital with malaria and was undergoing treatment when the strike came into force.

    He however provided that the staff had informed them prior that they would not be availing services.

    "They had informed the patients that from yesterday midnight there would be a strike," stated Caleb.

    He narrated the plight of the medics at the facility stating that some had not received their salaries in three months while others six months which had incited the strike. 

    "Some of them have not been paid for three months, some for six months. They lack money even to travel to work. We empathise with them," he added. 

    Health workers in Vihiga had issued threats that they would go on strike over delayed salaries.

    This forced the Head of the Council of Governor, Wycliffe Oparanaya to intervene after receiving complaints from county union officials on the same.

    Oparanya provided that he had passed on the complaints to Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani and received assurance that treasury would release the money to pay the workers.

    “I want to assure the Vihiga staff that they will soon get their salaries. Treasury will soon release money meant for the county,” Oparanya stated on April 12. 

    Director of Communications for Vihiga County, Victor Wetende speaking to Kenyans.co.ke provided that the medics in the county had instituted a go-slow but asserted that the contention was over March salaries and not three or six months arrears.

    From left: Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Council of Governor chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Trans Nzoia governor Patrick Khaemba address the press in Nairobi on December 16, 2019.
    From left: Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o, Council of Governor chairman Wycliffe Oparanya and Trans Nzoia governor Patrick Khaemba address the press in Nairobi on December 16, 2019.

    "It's true, there's a go-slow in progress, but the reason is that they've not been paid their salaries for the month of March," stated Wetende.

    Wetende stated that the action by the medics was regrettable given the ongoing pandemic.

    "It is unfortunate that they chose to go on strike when we are battling coronavirus. Everybody has yet to receive their salaries. What would happen if they all downed their tools?" he questioned

    He, however, stated that the county government was looking at ways to ensure that the essential health workers received their dues.

    "It's not the county government's fault. We are all looking at the National Treasury, that is where our salary's come from. But we are doing all we can to push treasury to release funds so that they can get paid," Wetende concluded.