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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Health Crisis Looms In Busia As Doctors Kick Off Strike

Health Crisis Looms In Busia As Doctors Kick Off Strike


 Doctors and Healthcare Workers Demand Change in Busia County

Busia County, known for its bustling healthcare system, is now facing an imminent health crisis as doctors and healthcare workers have launched a strike after the expiration of a 14-day notice issued to the local government.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), and the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) jointly issued the strike notice last month, citing a multitude of concerns ranging from delayed promotions to inadequate equipment, unfavorable working conditions, and salary arrears.

 A Cry for Better Conditions and Fair Treatment

Today, the healthcare professionals took to the streets of Busia County, their determination resolute as they voiced their grievances.

Their destination: the offices of Busia Governor Paul Otuoma and the Public Service Commission (PSC), where they presented their demands for immediate attention.

The doctors and healthcare workers bemoaned the lack of career progression, citing over 200 individuals who had received promotion letters in 2022 but were still waiting for the promised advancements and accompanying arrears.

Furthermore, the striking healthcare workers insisted on expeditiously conducting interviews for another 100 deserving colleagues who were due for promotion.

They emphasized the urgent need to fill vacant positions left by those who had exited the service, in addition to recruiting new staff members to alleviate the mounting shortage and enhance the quality of healthcare delivery.

 Please for Resolution Met with Promises

While the PSC Chair, Michael Onyura, acknowledged the concerns raised by the healthcare practitioners and urged them to suspend the strike, promising that their issues were being addressed, the doctors remained unconvinced.

They made a firm decision to abstain from duty until their demands were thoroughly met to their satisfaction. According to their previous joint strike notice, their attempts to engage with Governor Otuoma had failed to yield any meaningful resolution, necessitating the current drastic action.

The letter submitted by the striking healthcare workers painted a bleak picture of the current situation.

They revealed that the main county referral facility was grappling with a severe shortage of essential pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical items, leaving patients with no choice but to dig into their pockets for personal purchases.

Even peripheral healthcare centers faced similar challenges, resulting in poor health outcomes.

Shockingly, within the past 30 days alone, the Busia County Referral Hospital recorded over 12 stillbirths and 2 maternal deaths—an alarming consequence of the prevailing circumstances that greatly demoralize the medical professionals and adversely affect their mental well-being.

 Suspension and a Glimmer of Hope

In an unexpected turn of events, the KUCO National Secretary General, George Gibore, announced on Friday that the clinical officers’ strike had been suspended for 90 days.

This decision was made in light of a new agreement to resume negotiations on the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the Ministry of Health.

While the clinical officers are hopeful for a favorable outcome, the strike by other healthcare workers continues, amplifying the urgency for the government to take immediate action.

The people of Busia County, who rely on their dedicated healthcare professionals during times of illness and distress, anxiously await a resolution that will restore their faith in the local healthcare system.

As the strike persists, the voices of the doctors and healthcare workers echo through the county, demanding better treatment, improved working conditions, and the provision of necessary resource

A Call for Urgent Action to Avert a Health Crisis

The situation in Busia County is dire, as the strike by doctors and healthcare workers shows no signs of abating.

The repercussions of this labor dispute are already being felt, with patients left in limbo and the local healthcare system on the brink of collapse.

The government must act swiftly and decisively to address the concerns raised by these dedicated professionals, ensuring that the healthcare needs of the community are met.

 A Plea for Recognition and Fairness

The striking doctors and healthcare workers have long been grappling with a range of issues that have eroded their morale and hindered their ability to provide quality care.

Delayed promotions have left many feeling undervalued and overlooked, while the lack of sufficient equipment has hampered their ability to deliver timely and effective treatments.

The poor working conditions only exacerbate the challenges they face, making it increasingly difficult to meet the growing demands of the population.

Moreover, the issue of salary arrears cannot be ignored. These healthcare professionals have dedicated their lives to serving the community, and yet they find themselves struggling to make ends meet.

It is high time that their dedication and hard work are recognized through fair compensation and the timely disbursement of their salaries.

 Rallying for Change

The doctors and healthcare workers, united under the umbrella bodies of KMPDU, KNUN, and KUCO, are making their voices heard loud and clear.

Their march to the offices of Busia Governor Paul Otuoma and the Public Service Commission is a powerful display of solidarity and a resolute demand for immediate action.

While PSC Chair Michael Onyura has assured the healthcare practitioners that their concerns are being addressed, actions speak louder than words.

Medical professionals have grown weary of empty promises and demand tangible solutions. They are determined to remain on strike until their grievances are not just acknowledged but effectively resolved.

 Implications for Public Health

The consequences of this ongoing strike extend far beyond the realm of labor disputes. With the healthcare workforce absent from their posts, the people of Busia County are left vulnerable and in desperate need of medical attention.

The shortage of essential commodities, both pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical, has pushed patients to the brink, forcing them to bear the burden of out-of-pocket expenses.

This financial strain only exacerbates the already precarious health outcomes, leaving the community in a state of despair.

Within the past month alone, the Busia County Referral Hospital has witnessed a devastating toll, with a staggering number of stillbirths and maternal deaths.

These heart-wrenching statistics underscore the urgent need for immediate intervention.

The government must act swiftly to address the root causes of this crisis, not only for the well-being of the healthcare professionals but also to safeguard the lives of those who depend on their expertise and care.

A Glimmer of Hope for Resolution

While the strike by doctors and healthcare workers continues to grip Busia County, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon.

The recent suspension of the clinical officers’ strike for 90 days opens the door for renewed negotiations on the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Ministry of Health. This development provides a ray of optimism that a resolution may be within reach.

However, time is of the essence.

The government must engage in meaningful dialogue with all stakeholders involved, address the demands of the striking healthcare workers, and work towards a comprehensive solution that rebuilds trust, restores morale, and ensures the provision of quality healthcare services to the people of Busia County.

 Upholding the Right to Quality Healthcare

The plight of the doctors and healthcare workers in Busia County resonates with communities across the nation.

It is a stark reminder of the importance of investing in healthcare infrastructure, prioritizing the well-being of those on the front lines, and upholding the right to quality healthcare for all.

As the strike persists, the urgency to resolve this crisis intensifies.

The people of Busia County deserve better—a healthcare system that values its dedicated professionals, provides adequate resources and guarantees access to quality care when it is needed most.


Sources and References

Citizen Digital  Health Crisis Looms In Busia As Doctors Kick Off Strike.

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