Health workers in Kirinyaga down tools

Health services in all public hospitals in Kirinyaga were on Wednesday paralyzed after health workers downed their tools claiming deplorable working condition and poor sanitation in hospitals.

Central region Kenya medical practitioners and dentist Union Secretary General Gor Goody said the health workers will not resume to their normal duties until the county meets their demands which include hiring of more nurses and doctors, promotion of their members, equipping hospitals in the county and hiring of  casual workers.

“As it stands, our members are not resuming their duties until the county meets our demand, we have been trying to reach to governor Anne Waiguru for dialogue but she ignored us, that is why we have had to take the industrial strike as a last resort,” Goody said.

The health workers drawn from the KMPDU, the Kenya union of Nurses clinical officers union and laboratory and technicians union said they are working in deplorable state and some of the colleagues had contracted diseases such as hepatitis B due to poor sanitation at the Kerugoya level four hospital.

Goody further said the unionist will not sit back as their members are intimidated and threatened when they demand quality working conditions.

She said the county has not carried out any promotions in the last two years.

“Poor working conditions leads to poor treatment of our patients, we are demanding that the county improves the working condition, equip our hospitals and motivate the staff so that patients get quality services” Goody added.

Woes at the Kirinyaga health sector began on April 20 when the county laid off some 346 casual workers in the health sector leading to poor sanitation.

The senate health committee toured the facility and later Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru said they were not satisfied with the feedback from senior county employees in the health department on the mess that was at the Kerugoya level four hospital.

Waiguru has insisted the mess at the Kerugoya level hospital was collusion between six senior staff in the health department and her rival to sabotage her work.

She further invited the DCI to investigate her claim of sabotage so that those found culpable are held responsible.

Last week the unionists gave the county a seven day notice to act on their demand but the county through the county secretary Joe Muriuki moved to a Nairobi court on Friday where the county obtained temporary orders against the industrial action until an application filed by the county is heard and determined.

Though, Goody who led the health workers through the streets of Kerugoya town causing traffic snarl ups said the union had not been served with any court order hence the industrial action is legal

“We have not seen any court order and our lawyers have been to court and established that there is none, our strike is legal.” She told journalists.

Meanwhile, the Kenya medical practitioners and dentist board has given the Kerugoya level four hospital a clean bill of health to resume normal operations.

Board CEO Daniel Yumbya said they were satisfied with how the county had acted on the recommendations three weeks ago on sanitation issues at the hospital after an expose by the media.
Yumbya who was accompanied by officials from the nursing council,and those from the pharmacy and poisons board said the county had acted and restored hygiene at the hospital.
He further noted that the county had hired an extra 67 casual workers to work in the health department.
The board had three weeks ago flagged the Kerugoya level four hospital due to sanitation issues and banned any further admission of patients at the facility until the county met requirements issued by the board.
Kirinyaga deputy governor Peter Ndambiri who accompanied the board members on a tour of the facility asked politicians to stop playing politics with the life of Kirinyaga people since health is paramount and a right.
The deputy governor also noted that renal and eye units at the Kerugoya level four hospital have been attracting patients from within and outside the mount Kenya region and called on all leaders to support the county government as health is one of President Uhuru’s agenda in the big four.
Ndambiri further termed a strike by the health workers illegal since the county had obtained a court order barring the workers from carrying out an industrial action. The health workers downed their tools on Wednesday citing poor working conditions.
Kirinyaga county commissioner Jim Njoka said his office is ready to provide security to health workers willing to go back to work.
Njoka also urged the health practitioners to give dialogue a chance instead of downing their tools.

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