Nairobi – Doctors in most public hospitals in Kenya went on strike on Friday to protest against delayed salaries and lack of protective equipment when handling patients who may have COVID-19.
“The strike began on Friday,’’ said Thuranira Kaugiria, the secretary-general for the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union.
He said 320 doctors employed by the Nairobi County government were taking part in the strike because they had inadequate health insurance, poor quality protective gear and too few isolation wards to treat COVID-19 patients.
According to Kaugiria, the strike will not affect private and public hospitals within Nairobi run by the national government.
Latest data showed that 31,441 confirmed coronavirus cases in Kenya, 620 deaths and 13,536 recoveries out of 407,610 tests had been done so far.
The majority of confirmed cases had been in the Kenyan capital.
Kenyan doctors have been posting pictures on Twitter of what they say is inadequate gear supplied by the government, including porous overalls meant to protect against dust that would not prevent the spread of the virus.
In a separate incident, police used tear gas against dozens of protesters who had gathered at Freedom Corner in Uhuru Park to demonstrate against allegations of corruption in the procurement of protective gear.
The head of the government-run Kenya Medical Supplies Authority has been suspended over allegations that the agency procured low quality items and inflated prices of others.
“We are tired of being bombarded every single day with news of how much money we are losing that should be going to fight the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Wanjeri Nderu, who helped organised the protest.
According to her, they decided today to have a peaceful march.
“We were teargassed more than 20 times, some of my colleagues have been arrested.
`Activists were considering launching private prosecution of some officials,’’ she said.