, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – The government has admitted that the country could be facing a shortage of trained nurses even as a proposal to prioritise training of science courses at the expense of arts subjects gathers momentum.
Public Health Assistant Minister James Gesami told Parliament on Wednesday that a government initiative to hire 4,200 nurses under the Economic Stimulus Programme in April was hit by a deficit of close to 1,000 nurses.
“Only 3,386 nurses applied and we recruited all of them,” Dr Gesami told the House.
“I do know for sure that we had over 6,000 nurses out there before the advertisement but there are nurses who would want to stick where they are including the private sector.”
In addition to the training shortages, there has been reported exodus of Kenyan nurses to Europe, America and Botswana for ‘greener pastures.’ The professionals have been motivated by better terms. Under the stimulus package each constituency was entitled to 20 nurses as a government initiative to improve access to health for all.
“We will continue to ask those constituencies that have not yet filled their 20 slots to encourage those nurses that are still willing to take opportunities at the constituency level to come and get employed,” said the Assistant Minister, adding that the government would “continue advertising for the empty slots.”
Dr Gesami was however put on the spot to explain why the government had failed to put measures in place to address the shortage.
“The reason why they were not able to recruit enough is because we have a shortage. Can the minister admit that we have not trained enough nurses?” posed Kiharu MP Muturi Mwangi.
Higher Education Minister William Ruto’s proposal to abolish the blanket funding of tuition fees at universities and instead adopt a system of funding specific courses with a bias to science based courses has been met with resistance from arts students and lecturers.
Still in Parliament, the government announced plans for a major disarmament exercise in major urban areas in the country to control the infiltration of illegal firearms and reduce crime rates. Internal Security Assistant Minister Orwa Ojode told MPs on Wednesday morning that the towns to be targeted in the exercise include Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Kericho among others.
“For those who are still holding the guns, their days are numbered,” said Mr Ojode.
Mr Ojode said the exercise would start immediately, concurrently with the ongoing similar exercise in upper eastern and parts of north eastern Kenya. The Assistant Minister warned that the government will fully enforce the provisions of the new Organised Crimes Act which stipulates life imprisonment for those found holding illegal firearms.
The surging crime rates in the major cities have been attributed to the infiltration of the arms.
“If we are able to enforce this (disarmament) we will reduce the crime rates by 70 percent,” he added.