Somali refugees in Dhagahley camp hit by medical strike

Qaar ka mid ah bukaanada jiifa isbitaalka xerada Dhagaxley/Yogol/ Ergo

(ERGO) – Thousands of Somali refugees in Dhagahley camp in Dadaab, northeastern Kenya, are bearing the brunt of weeks of a doctors’ pay strike.

Health services have been paralysed in three health centres in the camp after 426 health practitioners went on strike in October.

A distraught Kamal Ali Mohamed, who is a diabetes patient, could only hope the doctors would at least prescribe some free insulin for him.

“I was an outpatient here and I have been getting insulin injections from the health centre, but for the last 10 days operations stopped at the centre,” said Kamal. “I am deeply concerned.”

Kamal is worried about his deteriorating health, saying he has no money to buy insulin.

“Let alone buying insulin injections, I have no bus fare to go to the health post in the nearest camp to get the injections,” he said.

Ali Magan Mohamed’s wife Habibo Ismail had pregnancy complications last month and had a stillbirth.

“They refused to treat my wife as the strike was underway. She is yet to recover fully and she has no medicine,” Ali told Radio Ergo.

The medical professionals went on strike to force the medical charity, Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF), which runs the camp health facilities, to raise their salaries.

Abdirisaq Digale Abdi, a nurse at one of the health centres in Dhagahley, said he would continue the strike until their salaries are increased.

“I work at a health centre and I earn a meagre salary of 9,200 Kenya shillings a month [about $92]. This amount is not enough for my family to live on. I have been negotiating with MSF for a long time but nothing has yet been implemented,” said Abdirisaq, a father of five children,

Abubakar Mohamed, MSF humanitarian affairs officer, confirmed that the strike saying it had an impact on all health services and that the NGO was trying to find a solution.

“MSF can confirm that the medical staff stopped their work at the camps. The strike has had an impact on the daily routine. There are ongoing talks between the agency and the staff and I hope the issue will be resolved as soon as possible,” Abubakar said.

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