Doctors trickle back to work on the first day as patients pour in


Kenya doctor's representatives sign the return to work documents on Wednesday May 8. 

Photo credit: Pool

Despite the signing of the return to work formula between doctors and the county governments, services slowly picked up in health facilities in Nyanza.

In Kisumu's main referral hospital, the doctors had not yet turned up in their numbers as expected. 

A spot check at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Teaching and Referral Hospital revealed that only 35 doctors had reported to work against 100 usually working at the facility. 

However, the hospital's administration hopes their numbers will increase in the coming days.

But for patients, the calling off of the doctor's strike is a major relief for many who couldn't get medical attention.

Melvin Otieno, a patient at the facility said that he was attended to and got medication. 

"At least with the doctors resuming work, we have been treated,” said Mr Otieno. 

Doctors from Siaya County Referral Hospital, Bondo Sub-county Hospital and Ambira Hospital reported to work this morning.

Unlike the other days when the patients’ lines were short, Siaya Referral received a majority of the patients who wanted specialised treatment.

In the dental and pediatric section, a significant number had reported seeking medication.

Ms Veronica Atieno, 23, had an appointment with the dentist on March 27, however, she could not get the services owing to the strike.

“The private facilities charge exorbitantly which I could not afford, I had to wait for the doctors to resume work to be attended to,” she said at Siaya County Referral Hospital.

Though the Medical superintendent declined to comment on whether all the doctors had reported to work, a source working in the hospital revealed that almost all the health officials were at work.

During the period when the doctors were on strike, the majority of the patients shied away from the public facilities citing lack of proper services.

“Let the doctors come back and drugs follow suit. This pattern of receiving prescriptions and failing to get the drugs to allow the private pharmacists to exploit us,” said Mr William Ndege, who visited the facility this morning.

In Kisii, the situation was not any different as doctors reported to work as usual, since many of them did not participate in the 56 days industrial action. 

At the Coast region, health services at public hospitals resumed with patients thronging the largest referral hospital, Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital in Mombasa for treatment.

Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital, is the largest specialised health facility in the region with over 700 bed capacity serving Mombasa, Taita Taveta, Kwale, Kilifi, Lamu and Tana River counties.

At the emergency section, team found doctors attending to more than 20 patients referred from private hospitals.

"I got an accident and I thought I would die due to the strike," said Jack Ochieng’, at the Coast General Teaching and Referral Hospital emergency ward.

Said Mohammed who was involved in an accident in Kongowea thanked the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union for calling off the strike.

"I came here during the strike and I am happy I was treated because I was an emergency case. But it is a relief that the doctors have called off their strike," said Mr Mohammed.

Dr Yusra Faraj who is in charge of the emergency ward at the CGTRH said medics have been handling emergency cases even during the strike period.

"We have seen more than 20 emergency cases, we are relieved that the strike is off although for us we were at work handling emergency cases," said Dr Faraj.

By Elizabeth Ojina, Kassim Adinasi and Winnie Atieno