Lamu health workers protest over al- Shabaab link

Lamu Health workers demonstrating over being linked to al- Shabaab. PHOTO: NATSHA NEEMA

Lamu, KENYA: Health workers in Lamu County on Monday took to the streets to protest allegations by the security office that some facilities were aiding al-Shabaab.

The health workers including doctors, clinical officers, nurses and lab technicians from various hospitals, dispensaries and health centers across Lamu also matched to the Lamu County Commissioner Gilbert Kitiyo’s office where they presented a petition on what they termed as critical matters affecting them.

They also demanded the release of a pharmacist who was arrested last week on suspicion that he was secretly ferrying drugs to al-Shabaab hideouts in the county.

Last week, Linda Boni operation director Joseph Kanyiri some health facilities in Lamu, Tana River and Garissa on the spot for aiding al-Shabaab.

Kanyiri said health facilities in Lamu,Witu,Garsen,Ijara,Sanghailu,Msalani and Galmagala have been secretly giving out medical supplies to al-Shabaab militants and even treating them at the facilities and letting them go while knowing fully well that they are a threat to security.

Led by the county health workers chairperson Ahmed Farid, the health workers demanded an immediate withdrawal of the allegations by the security department.

They also accused security officers of humiliation,intimidation and victimization and called for the same to stop immediately.

On Monday last week, a pharmacist at the Lamu King Fahad Hospital was arrested by CID and anti-terror officers for tampering with evidence concerning a stash of drugs that was discovered on November 26 last year on the shores of Shella area in Lamu town.

It was suspected that the drugs were being ferried to an al Shabaab hideout before the culprit spotted security officers and fled leaving the drugs behind after which they were taken back to the hospital.

The pharmacist is accused of switching the boxes containing the stolen drugs which had been labeled as exhibits by police.

The demonstrating health workers have however demanded an apology from the security officers for what they termed as malicious utterances made against them and implicating them for cooperating with al Shabaab.

“We demand that the investigating agents do thorough investigations on such allegations before accusing anyone.You cant just throw a blanket accusation and say health workers are aiding al Shabaab.It’s wrong.We have a very clear conscience and our only focus is on the health of the people of Lamu.It’s unfair to drag us into such,” said Farid.

Lamu county Clinical Officers Union Secretary Iddi Yusa said it was unfair for such weighty allegations to made against them and said there is need for the security office to issue an apology.

“The drugs supplied to Lamu hospitals come directly from the Kenya Medical Supplies Authority-KEMSA.Any drugs coming in or out of any facility go through a certain process which makes it impossible for anyone to attempt anything.We don’t even have enough drugs at our facilities, where therefore would we get whatever they claim we give to the enemy?We are not working or aiding al Shabaab and as such, we demand an apology,” said Yusa.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses-KNUN Lamu branch secretary Julius Njogu and the Union of Kenya Civil Servants Lamu County Secretary Haji Shibu said many were now working in fear of intimidation and victimization from security officers.

They said security officers have been harassing medics in the county since the allegations were made.

They threatened to take legal action if their issues aren’t addressed.