Three die in Busia as health workers strike

By: LINET WAFULA

Three patients have died in Busia County as a strike by health workers entered the fourth day on Thursday.

According to the county acting executive member of health Mr Martin Kafwa said the patients could not get treatment.

A woman and a child died at Busia Referral Hospital while a man died at a dispensary in the county. “We are calling upon the unions to call off this strike,” Mr Kafwa said.

County director of Health services Melisa Lutomia said there were no services at key hospitals.

“Our six main hospitals and some health centres are completely paralysed,” said the official.

Speaking in his office, Mr Kafwa said they received a strike notice from the Unions which had 11 issues that needed to be addressed.

The health workers are protesting over delays in payment of their salaries, promotions and implementation of the Akichelesit report (on paralysis of children) and inadequate supply of drugs.

Mr Kafwa said they agreed on the way forward on 10 issues except promotions and re-designation of staff which they postponed to next year.

He said the county has approved the promotions of 88 health workers whose names have been forwarded to County Public Service for the issuing of promotion letters.

MEET DEMANDS

But chairperson of National Union of Nurses in Busia County Mr Isaiah Omondi said the strike is still on until their demands are met.

Mr Omondi said 237 out of 688 staff are yet to be promoted adding that they will only resume duty after issues raised are addressed.

“We will not resume duty until the 237 staff are promoted to different grades. How long can we wait for the county government to act,” he said.

Mr Omondi said some staff have received warning letters from various organizations over non remittance of statutory deductions calling on the county to up their game.

“We are not sick to wake up and go on strike. Most of our members have been blacklisted while others surcharged because of non-remittance of statutory deductions,” he said.

But Mr Kafwa maintained that they have evidence to show that statutory deductions are being remitted to various organisations.

“Our health staff are living in denial. They just want to sabotage the county administration. They have not accepted that Health is a devolved function. We are asking them to resume work or we take relevant action,” he said.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION