The seemingly perpetual agony of Kitui residents seeking medical services in public hospital yesterday ceased after nurses called of their nationwide strike that lasted for five months.
A spot check by KO established that desperate residents started flocking into Kitui County Referral Hospital among other public health care centres across Kitui from as early as 6am on Friday to seek treatment.
Those who spoke to KO lauded the State’s move to strike the pay deal with the nurses, who practically run hospitals with little help from doctors, bringing to an end the health crisis.
They decried suffering and economic strains they bore during the strike as seeking treatment from private hospitals proved quite costly and unsustainable for locals who are mostly low-income earners.
They, however, challenged the government to find a long-lasting solution to the on and off strikes by the medics to guarantee uninterrupted medical services to needy citizens.
Dr Michael Ndulo, a senior medic at the hospital, confirmed that the nurses had reported to work but operations were at low gear as a lot needed to be done to get all departments up and running.
“Almost all departments ground to a standstill on the onset of the strike. We are speedily getting the wards cleaned up and medical supplies mobilised to every corner of the hospital before we can start receiving patients,” said Dr Ndulo.
The medics resumed duty after their union, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN), inked a deal with the government to have their contentious Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) implemented within the next 30 days.
The nurses work boycott, which lasted for an agonizing 150 days, completely paralysed the national health sector.
A drawn-out stalemate between KNUN and the government over the medics’ pay demands further fueled the industrial action which saw thousands of Kenyans suffer and even lose lives due to medical negligence in public health facilities.