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Kenya: Patients left stranded as doctors strike cripples public hospitals

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Kenya

People waited outside public hospitals on Tuesday hoping for care as a nationwide strike by doctors entered day two.

Health workers were only attending to critical cases.

Pregnant women were told to seek assistance at private hospitals unless giving birth or suffering complications.

Heavily pregnant Sakina Aoko said she was told at Nairobi's Mama Lucy Kibaki Hospital to "go to a private facility".

"I had come to Mama Lucy (Kibaki Hospital) when experiencing some pain. They have told me the doctors are on strike and if I were to give birth or had some complications they would have attended to me. But if it is the normal pain they have asked me to look for another hospital or go to a private hospital. I have even gone to the emergency department and they have told me the same", Aoko said.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union announced its 7,200 members have been asked to stop working until the government meets their demands.

This means a majority of Kenyan medical personnel in public hospitals are picketing amid a growing pandemic.

The health workers are protesting inadequate insurance benefits and lack of protective gear while treating COVID-19 patients

At least 14 doctors have died of the coronavirus in Kenya since the first case was confirmed in March, according to the doctors union.

In an interview with local channel Citizen TV on Tuesday, Kenya's health minister Mutahi Kagwe accused health workers of politicizing their demands, calling the strike 'disgusting'.

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