Embu County healthcare faces collapse as doctors threaten strike
Embu County’s healthcare system is on the brink of a crisis as doctors have given a 21-day strike notice, citing poor working conditions, insufficient medical supplies, and a lack of equipment in hospitals.
The healthcare professionals voiced their frustration during a press conference held in Embu town on Monday, 7 August, highlighting the urgent need for the county government to address these pressing issues.
Led by the Secretary-General of the Kenya Medical Pharmacists, Practitioners, and Dentists Union (KMPDU), Dr. Davji Atellah, the doctors accused the county government of neglecting the needs of its healthcare workers and patients alike.
They emphasized that their pleas for improved working conditions had fallen on deaf ears, leaving them with no choice but to resort to strike action.
“Embu doctors are at work to supervise the deaths of their patients. They are struggling because they are not supported by the county government. They don’t have drugs in the hospitals, they don’t have the equipment, and they are worried as they give the services they are trained to do. They are there to supervise deaths, they are there to refer patients to other counties,” said Dr. Atellah.
The doctors decried the lack of necessary resources, stating that their ability to provide quality medical care was compromised due to inadequate supplies and equipment.
Dr. Atellah further revealed that the county had failed to remit statutory deductions for the doctors, leading many to suffer financial hardships and even property loss due to auctioneers.
In addition to the working environment and resource-related grievances, the doctors highlighted concerns about their employment contracts.
Many doctors reported being subjected to arbitrary contracts with unclear expiration dates, which they argued hindered their career progression.
Dr. Dennis Mugambi, Chairman of KMPDU in the upper Eastern region, echoed these concerns, emphasizing that doctors in Embu County had not seen promotions for the last decade.
He raised alarming allegations that health facilities in the county were functioning more as prescription centers, sending patients to buy medications from local chemists instead of providing necessary care.
The dire situation prompted the doctors to call upon local residents to consider seeking medical services from neighboring counties or private hospitals if their demands remained unaddressed.
With only eight doctors serving a population in need of approximately 300, the doctors stressed the urgency of rectifying the situation to prevent further harm to patients.
“If all our grievances are not addressed by 28th August, Embu residents should start planning how they will get health services elsewhere,” warned Dr. Mugambi.