Health workers’ unions in Kenya have vowed to proceed with the planned strike on Monday accusing the government of failing to address their welfare demands.
Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) Chairman Peterson Wachira has said government was not serious in addressing concerns raised by frontline health workers in the war against COVID-19.
The medics under Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) three weeks ago issued a notice of a strike starting 6th December over government’s “inaction” towards safety concerns of frontline health workers.
“Now they are asking us that we can let our vulnerable health professionals to continue dying in the guise of patriotism as if patriotism now has become a suicide attempt for the health workers; we are telling them that we are not ready to commit suicide,” Wachira said.
The announcement from health workers comes after at least 10 specialized doctors and more than 30 nurses died from the virus since March. Their deaths is linked to inadequate Personal Protection Equipment available in heath facilities.
The order from Labour Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui to the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA) to release personal protective equipment worth more than Sh3 billion to health workers has also not convinced the health to call of the strike which they announced on November 16th.
“The press statement by the CS Labour confirmed that the Government has no intention to resolve the impending strike or a health crisis with the outmost urgency it deserves to safeguard the lives of Kenyans and health workers. We wish to remind him that this is a matter of life and death,” Wachila stated.
Among other things, the health workers demand for provision of adequate PPE’s in all heath facilities across Kenya, a comprehensive medical insurance cover for all doctors in the country and work-man compensation for all doctors and heath workers.
They also demand that government employs 2000 more doctors, reveiew contract terms of doctors to permanent and pensionable basis, and enhance risk allowance among other things.
The Kenyan authorities have been urging heath workers to suspend the strike set to start on Monday to allow the government address their concerns.
The medics are advocating for the creation of the Health Service Commission to enhance devolved health services.