Cholera outbreak: Kisumu hires volunteer doctors, nurses amid strike

The Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital in Kisumu. A cholera patient died at the facility.

Photo credit: File

The Kisumu County government has recruited volunteer doctors and nurses to help contain an outbreak of cholera in two sub-counties.

Kisumu East and Kisumu Central are battling the disease even as the strike by doctors in the region continues, entering its third day on Saturday.

Two patients from Nyalenda in Kisumu Central died on Wednesday while 11 others are receiving treatment in different hospitals after the cholera outbreak was reported in two sub-counties on Monday.

Kisumu County health director Liliana Dayo said they decided to hire the help on a temporary basis so they could deal sufficiently with emergencies in health facilities.

“All the 11 patients who were in hospitals have been treated and discharged, and are stable. We have not received reports of any [more] deaths and our teams are closely monitoring the situation, “said Ms Dayo.

The health workers in Kisumu kicked off their strike on Wednesday, demanding to be paid their two-month salaries. The strike has paralysed services in public hospitals, leaving patients unattended.

Through their unions, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (Kuco), Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologist (Knupt) and the Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers (Knumlo), the medics vowed not to resume work until their delayed salaries for February and March are paid.

At the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital, several patients were left unattended in wards. Their relatives were seen trying to feed and clean them.

“If only the doctors were around, my patient would have been on the way to recovery,” said resident Anne Atieno.

Mr Joseph Omondi, who took his diabetic father for treatment on Friday, said, “We rushed him here on Friday after his sugar levels started rising but he has been attended to by a medical trainee and his condition has not improved much,” said Mr Omondi.

“We spent Sh5,800 to purchase the drugs. I am not sure why we were asked to buy drugs when we can get them at the hospital.”

Kakamega’s situation

Meanwhile, a cholera outbreak in Kakamega County has been linked to funerals, whose guests suffered vomiting, stomach pains and diarrhea.

The outbreak has left two people dead and several admitted in hospital with diarrhoea and vomiting.

Public health teams in the county visited Lugose and Vigunga villages to assess the situation and collected samples for testing.

Health officials at the St Elizabeth Mukumu Hospital said they had collected samples from patients for further tests.

Dr Linda Ochieng, a medical officer at the hospital said, “Two patients have been admitted in the last three days. One of the patients has shown some improvement while another is still very weak.

“We have taken samples of their stool, blood and urine to test for salmonella stool antigen (Sat), as well as ova and cyst for further tests - to conclusively establish what they are suffering from.”

She said preliminary investigations showed one of the patients had a bacterial infection and that county public health officials took stool samples for analysis.

One of the patients, Enock Mukumira, said a private hospital asked him to pay Sh1,500 before he could start receiving treatment.

“We want the county government to move with speed and help those who are sick in their homes. We also want to know what is ailing our people,” said Mr Mukumira.

The county government has sent public officials to the affected villages to investigate the outbreak and ensure patients are attended to.

Reported by Angeline Ochieng, Sharon Atieno and Benson Amadala