A section of clinical officers based in Tana River County downed their tools Monday to protest against failure by the County Government to promote and re-designate them.
The clinical officers, who are members of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) marched from the Hola County Referral Hospital to the County Public Service Board (CPSB) offices in Hola Town, while chanting slogans.
Those who downed their tools are serving in specialized departments, which include anaesthesia, reproductive health, paediatric, ophthalmology, ears, nose and throat (ENT), chest and dermatology.
The officers marched out of the hospital in full medical regalia carrying placards and whistling and chanting slogans, thus paralyzing services in their departments that included surgical theatres.
KUCO Tana River Branch Secretary, Mr. Reinhard Myeuko Maro, warned that the strike would continue till all their grievances are addressed.
“We shall not relent. We shall offer no services across all hospitals in the county till our employer responds to the issues we have raised,” he said.
Maro said all other clinical officers in the county’s health facilities would join the strike from Wednesday if the county government fails to reach an agreement with the union.
He lamented that their colleagues in other counties who had acquired higher educational qualifications and those who had served the requisite periods stipulated in the scheme of service for clinical officers had either been promoted or re-designated.
“Counties like Lamu, Garissa, Kilifi and many others have promoted their specialists. Why not Tana River?” posed Maro.
The clinical officer’s industrial action follows a strike notice issued June 10, 2019 by KUCO Secretary General George Gibore to the offices of the governor’s office, county secretary and the secretary to the county public service board.
In the notice, Mr. Gibore claimed that the county was non-responsive to matters affecting health staffs, promotion and re-designation of clinical officers and specialists in disregard of the existing scheme of services and the public service commission human resource manual.
He also complained about failure by the county to sign a recognition agreement with the union.
According to Mr. Gibore, the grievances had been pending for the last four years which saw members feel being treated in a circus.
It was not immediately possible to get a comment from Governor Dhadho Godhana, board secretary Eunice Juma or the County Health Executive Mwanajuma Hiribae as they could not be reached on their phones.
However, Godhana told reporters last week that the clinical officers’ grievances were being addressed and called on them to be patient.
County executive for Health Mwanajuma Hiribae said then that her department had made contingency plans to mitigate the effects of the impending strike, adding that she did not foresee any crisis since only five facilities were being headed by clinical officers.
“Only five health facilities – Hola County Referral Hospital, Ngao Sub County Hospital as well as Bura, Garsen and Kipini Health Centres – will be adversely affected, since the rest are headed by nurses,” she said.
The clinical officers’ strike comes at a time when the country is facing an acute shortage of anaesthetists, according to a press release issued recently by the Council of Governors (CoG).
According to the CoG, the country has only a total of 788 anaesthetists.
By Emmanuel Masha and David Masiga