Nurses strike puts UHC programme in jeopardy

Tuesday, December 15th, 2020 00:00 |
A nurse from Embu county Lucy Mbogo shout outside the Ministry of Health offices at the Afya House during a peaceful demonstration. Photo/PD/GERALD ITHANA

The realisation of Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country remains in a limbo, as nurses and clinicians continue to paralyse operations at government hospitals. 

For the ninth-day running, the health sector has been brought to its knees creating a public health crisis, seemingly with no end in sight. 

As the healthcare workers continue to hold their ground until their demands are met, they have accused the two levels of government of employing intimidation tactics to force them back. 

Yesterday, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Mombasa branch secretary Peter Maroko said that their main aim, is to protect all its members working under poor conditions. 

Still unshaken

“Our intention is to make sure that those working are also taken care of, we will be pulling them out until the county provides them with the right work equipment,” said Maroko. 

He has said that despite the county government having moved to court, they are still unshaken and they will not relent. 

In Bungoma, nurses marched to the county officers accusing a number of officials of intimidating and threatening health workers.  

Knun county chairman Simon Omari, insisted that threats and intimidation will not arm-twist them to call off the strike  He regretted that some of the health workers were earning as low as Sh 10,000 per month, yet they were being exposed to Cvid19 patients. 

The situation was the same in Nakuru as contracted medical staff trooped to the governor’s office, protesting continuous frustrations by the county in providing them with a conducive working environment. 

Chairperson Emavaline Ondaro said they have never received Covid-19 allowances, despite the President directing they be paid seven months down the line. 

“Some of us have not received our salaries for months now, others even got half without any explanation which is inhumane,” said Ondaro. 

Yesterday, the County Government of Bomet announced that it was considering taking action against all health workers participating in the ongoing nurses  strike. 

Governor Hillary Barchok claimed all those employed under the e UHC program were taking advantage of the situation to paralyse services. 

“For what reason should someone who gets paid on time abandon work, we pay them to attend to our people in our facilities and so we shall be taking action against them,” he said. 

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers chairman Peterson Wachira vowed their members would not go back to work unless their grievances are addressed fully. 

“We have seen leaders telling us to be patriotic, patriotism is not equal to committing suicide,” said Wachira. 

In Trans Nzoia, patients seeking health services were turned away as no services were being offered.  

“So far no one has attended to me. I will have to go and buy medicine at a local pharmacy to relieve my pains,”said Agnes Nafula, a mother of four from Kipsongok. 

Trans Nzoia County Assembly Health Committee chairman Daniel Kaburu said that the county cannot risk having doctors on a go-slow as the country battles Covid-19.  Report by Monica Kagia, Roy Lumbe, Benard Gitau, Yusuf Masibo, Felix Yegon and David Musundi 

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