What you need to know:
- Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary-General Seth Panyako on Wednesday said the nurses’ strike is still on.
- Health workers are demanding an increase in risk allowances, sufficient personal protective equipment and comprehensive health cover.
The strike by health workers entered its eleventh day on Wednesday, with operations paralysed in public hospitals across country.
At the Siaya County Referral Hospital, Mr George Ochieng struggled to take away his sister who suffered a stroke.
Mr Ochieng was made to look for a private hospital in town.
“My sister had a stroke three days ago and was scheduled for a CT scan today,” Mr Ochieng said.
Representatives of nurses and clinical officers said the strike would only end when their demands are met.
And time is running out for a deal with doctors, with only four days to the end of their ultimatum to government to address their grievances.
Doctors suspended their strike by 14 days at the time the other health workers began theirs, but the declaration by authorities that their demand for an increment in risk allowance is not sustainable spells doom for the talks.
Most public hospitals are asking relatives of patients to take them elsewhere as all departments remain shut.
Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary-General Seth Panyako on Wednesday said the nurses’ strike is still on.
The health workers are demanding an increase in risk allowances, sufficient personal protective equipment, comprehensive health cover, implementation of the collective bargaining agreement and promotions.
“I will not call off the strike. Nurses work in an environment that is risky,” Mr Panyako told journalists in Kisumu.
He said nurses work hard but are given the least amount in risk allowances.
“A nurse gets Sh3, 750 as risk allowance while other people get Sh20,000. We don not have medical cover. How are we supposed to work without insurance,” Mr Panyako asked.
Hospitals remain shut
Services at Kakamega General Hospital remained paralysed yesterday as the county government went to court seeking to have the nurses’ strike declared illegal.
The situation is dire for patients as rural hospitals, which are manned by nurses, remain shut.
The county government hired nurses on contract to offer services at the maternity, emergency, paediatric and renal wings.
Health executive Collins Matemba said the devolved unit has filed a case to outlaw the work boycott.
“We have been in court today but have been referred to the ruling of a similar application filed in Nairobi. We are therefore waiting for further directions,” Dr Matemba said.
Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Kakamega county secretary Renson Bulunya said nurses will not be intimidated to report to duty.
“The county has not addressed our grievances,” she said.
Patients have been abandoned in hospitals in Bondo, Ambira, Madiany and Yala.
The striking health workers accused the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) of being insensitive to them.
Siaya KNUN branch secretary Sylvester Ng’anda said the strike would go on.
The union official, who addressed the media outside the referral hospital, said clinical officers and nurses are exposed to greater risks while attending to patients and should be listened to by the county and national governments.
“We have been on strike for 10 days but nothing is happening. We are not getting any positive response from the government but we will not relent,” he said.
Mr Ng’anda added that his colleagues are working in stressful conditions.
Kenya Clinical Officers Union Siaya branch chairman Kennedy Opiyo Omondi said he contracted Covid-19 in October and had to meet the cost of treatment.
By Benson Amadala, Dickens Wasonga, Elizabeth Ojina, George Odiwuor and Derick Luvega