Africa

87 patients escape from Kenya psych hospital as medics strike nationwide

A Kenyan doctor uses a megaphone to shout a slogan to demand fulfilment of a 2013 agreement between their union and the government that would raise their pay and improve working conditions at a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya December 5, 2016.

A Kenyan doctor uses a megaphone to shout a slogan to demand fulfilment of a 2013 agreement between their union and the government that would raise their pay and improve working conditions at a meeting in Nairobi, Kenya December 5, 2016.  (REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya)

Kenyan officials say at least 87 patients with mental illnesses have escaped from the country's only psychiatric hospital after they were left unattended when medical workers at public hospitals went on strike nationwide.

Police fired tear gas Monday in the capital, Nairobi, to disperse dozens of doctors protesting that they have not received salary increases promised three years ago.

The medical workers are demanding better pay and working conditions.

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Ouma Olunga, secretary-general of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union, says 5,000 doctors from public hospitals across the country did not report to work.

Seth Panyako, secretary-general of the nurses' union, says her organization wants the government to sign a collective bargaining agreement that would bring equitable salaries for nurses.