Health workers dig in over devolution of services

December 16, 2013 2:15 pm
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Kenya National Union of Nurses Chairman Jophinus Musundi accused the government of failing to address issues raised by the workers forcing them to boycott duty/MAGARA FELIX
Kenya National Union of Nurses Chairman Jophinus Musundi accused the government of failing to address issues raised by the workers forcing them to boycott duty/MAGARA FELIX

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 16 – Health workers on Monday held a peaceful demonstration at Nairobi’s Uhuru Park to protest the devolution of health facilities to counties.

Kenya National Union of Nurses Chairman Jophinus Musundi accused the government of failing to address issues raised by the workers forcing them to boycott duty.

“We only raised two issues which are the upholding of the personnel embodiment of all health workers to the National Government and the establishment of the Health Service Commission to take care of the plight of the workers.”

“So far the engagement that we have been having with the government is not addressing the issues that we raised,” said Musundi.

Further, the workers maintained that they will not return to work unless the Health Bill is enacted into law saying that it will protect the rights of the workers.

“In the absence of the Health Bill the government should ensure that it in place latest by February next year so that the workers are able to know where they have been assigned to,” Musundi said.

He explained that the slow pace in the enactment is causing anxiety amongst the workers as some are not sure of their jobs once the secondment process begins.

The workers also complained over the use of the trainee doctors to treat patients saying that this was risking the lives of the public.

They urged the government to draft a return to work formula for the doctor to avert further loss of lives.

Patients continue to bear the brunt of the ongoing workers strike as it enters its sixth day.

Those affected included the Coast Provincial General Hospital, Embu Provincial General Hospital as well as other hospitals upcountry where nurses, doctors and clinical officers kept away from work.

A spot check by Capital FM News revealed that Kenyatta National Hospital (KNH), East Africa’s largest referral hospital was however, not affected by the strike.

“The national hospitals will continue running because there is nothing we are complaining about there. However, the problem that we are starting to see is that our people in the national hospitals have started complaining. As we speak there is a meeting at the Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital. The people there are saying that they want to down their tools because the workload is becoming too much,” said Sultani Matendechero, the Secretary General of the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union had said last Tuesday.

He explained that the strike was called after health workers spent the better part of Monday in discussions with the government but hit a deadlock when both parties failed to agree.

“The Governors want to continue running healthcare in a lawless manner; in an environment which is not coordinated, in an environment where nobody knows what will happen. At that point, we disagreed. We tried as much as possible to talk to the Governors… we gave all forms of suggestions which can allow us to arrive at the establishment of these laws and they refused. They said we just continue without putting the necessary laws in place,” he said.

The officers who effectively downed their tools demanded that their wages to be channelled through the national government and not the counties.

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