News

    Nurses' Standoff in Kenya Leaves Patients Few Options

    Striking public health workers participate in a demonstration as they enter the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 9, 2012.
    Striking public health workers participate in a demonstration as they enter the Ministry of Health headquarters in Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 9, 2012.

    Hospitals in Kenya are turning away patients due to an ongoing strike by the country's health professionals. The government announced it was firing many of the strikers Thursday, a decision that may only prolong the hardship for those in need of care.  

    A day after the Kenyan government announced it was cutting 25,000 health workers from its payrolls, the Mbagathi Hospital in Kenya's capital Nairobi was quiet - maybe a little too quiet.

    "The fact that we are seeing few patients is very bad," said Dr. Andrew Suleh, the superintendent of Mbagathi Hospital, a public facility which typically serves low-income patients, including those from the nearby Kibera slum.

    He says the 200-bed hospital usually sees 1,000 patients a day.  Now, it is only seeing 50 to 100 and has stopped admitting patients except for six people who were abandoned there by their families.

    But it is not that people simply stopped getting sick, so Dr. Suleh says he can only assume the worst.

    "They can't afford going to private facilities, so one can only conclude that they could be suffering at home and even dying at home," said Suleh.

    Health workers' revendications

    Nurses and other health workers at Mbagathi and other regional hospitals stopped work last week to call for better wages and working conditions.  But the government has not budged, and, instead, announced Thursday that the striking workers would be sacked.

    Dolly, a nurse at Mbagathi hospital, did not strike, because she was not directly hired by the government.

    But, she says, without specialists or the capacity for in-patient care at the hospital, she is forced every day to turn away patients.

    "It has really brought some impact because most of the patients are not being seen now.  Like the ones that are seriously sick - the only ones we can attend to are the ones who are stable," she said.

    Impact on patients

    The Kenyan media has reported cases of mothers who have died in childbirth outside Kenyan hospitals because no nurses would attend to them and other horror stories.  One newspaper published a front-page picture of a man who had fallen out of his hospital bed and was left on the floor for hours.

    But the overwhelming sensation at Kenya's understaffed hospitals is an eerie calm.

    For those patients who do not require a lot of attention, the situation is actually an improvement.

    Simon Gidhua, a patient at Mbagathi, did not say what he was there for, but he was in and out within 10 minutes.

    "So the situation is not so bad, but there are patients - you can say they are minimal, there are very few - but the doctors who are available, they are attending patients very nicely, especially the one who saw me," he said. "Me, I've had no problem, yes, even I was surprised because I was expecting to stay here for so many hours."

    Some ignored strike

    The patients who cannot be treated at Mbagathi and other regional hospitals are being referred to Kenyatta National Hospital, where nurses ignored the strike call.

    Here, the scene is very different.  The hallways are packed with visitors and doctors shuffling between wards.  All the rooms appear full, and patients wait on gurneys in the hallways outside the X-ray room.

    But apparently that is nothing new.  A hospital official, who declined to be recorded, told VOA that this is the biggest referral hospital in sub-Saharan Africa and that it is always at capacity.

    Kenyatta National is coping with the extra patients, for now, but it too is understaffed.

    The hospital currently employs about 1,600 hundred nurses, and for those who are recently out of work, they are looking to hire 60 more.

    Kenya's medical union leaders say the mass layoffs are not the end of the matter, and that they will continue the strike until their demands are met.





    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora