Crisis in Nairobi hospitals as nurses boycott work
Nairobi County on Monday woke up to a health crisis after health workers downed their tools following failure by county government to address their grievances.
Addressing a press conference in Nairobi Sunday, Kenya National Union of Nurses Nairobi Branch Secretary Eunice Ngari said that talks with the county government that were aimed at solving their grievances had collapsed and therefore called on all Nairobi County health workers to keep off hospitals from Monday.
“We wish to inform the public that there will be total paralysis in the public health sector starting today, and health workers are not turning back until our demands are meet,” she said.
The health workers have seven grievances that they want the county government to address.
The union leaders have asked the Nairobi County government to solve the issue of perpetual delay of the workers’ salaries and allowances.
The union bosses say that as of Sunday, they had not received their August salaries.
They also want more health workers employed to mitigate the current staff shortage.
“Unless all the issues are addressed conclusively, there will be no work. We are calling for harmonisation of salaries and promotion of all deserving workers as currently, promotion is selective,” said Ms Ngari.
Machakos, Wajir and Kisii counties are the only counties that have successfully promoted nurses and doctors in the two years that devolution has been in effect.
The health workers’ strike in Nairobi will be the fourth to happen in the country after Meru, Nyeri and Makueni counties which have also had health services paralysed.
Reports indicate that approximately 11 people have died as a result of the strike by health workers.
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Secretary General George Gibore has asked the government to address the health issues in the country with the seriousness they deserve.
“Stop issuing public relations statements in matters concerning health. The issues are grave and they are not being handled in the right way,” Mr Gibore told a press conference in Nairobi Sunday.
County governments have, however, heaped the blame the National Treasury for the delay in releasing funds to counties.
On the other hand, Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union secretary-general Ouma Oluga has called for reverting health services to the National Government, saying that the devolution of health was rushed.
Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya has however refuted claims that the health sector would perform better under the National Government, saying that services have improved since the docket was devolved.