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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Health workers strikes cripple services in Kenya: charity

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Two consecutive strikes by health professionals in Kenya in 2017 have caused crippling consequences to the country’s health system as a few facilities struggle with influx of patients, a global charity said on Wednesday.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the current nurses strike, which follows a 100-day doctors’ strike earlier this year have left many public health facilities closed and thousands of people without access to essential medical services.

“It is crucial that all parties work on a solution to restore access to emergency and life-saving care, and referral services,” Head of Mission for MSF in Kenya Abubakr Bashir Bakri said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The charity said many Kenyans are unable to afford care in some of the private facilities, which remain open during the current nurses’ strike.

It said other people have had to travel long distances to reach free services provided by non-profit organizations, sometimes ending up with grave outcomes due to delays.

In some ministry of health facilities that MSF supports, patients are simply not coming, assuming they are closed.

“During the doctors’ strike for example, MSF covered the high costs of intensive care in private facilities for severely ill patients. This is unacceptable; life-saving services need to be reinstated as a matter of urgency,” Bakri said.

The nurses have boycotted work in some parts of the country since June, citing a breach of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) they signed with the government.

The response to the cholera outbreak in the country has also suffered as there are no nurses working in nearly all public facilities.

MSF said it had to open a cholera treatment unit in Nairobi’s Mathare area, to treat patients who would otherwise not have received care.

“While essential medical services remain suspended, others may not be so lucky. With thousands cut off, we are urging that lifesaving activities are maintained to alleviate the suffering of those most in need,” said Bakri.

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