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Service delivery at stake as county experiences shortage of nurses

Service delivery to residents seeking medication at public health facilities in Kilifi County is at stake following an acute shortage of nurses whose establishment is less than 50 percent of the optimum capacity.

Administrators in the County Health department revealed that nurses across the county are getting overwhelmed by the huge amount of work leading to poor service delivery as patients wait desperately to be attended to.

Speaking during celebrations to wind up the World Nurses Week, the head of the Family Health Services department in Kilifi County Jesca Deche said the government strived to put up new health facilities but did not employ enough nurses to fill the demand.

“We have around 160 facilities right now. You’d say we have many nurses but compared to the demand on the ground, I have said it earlier, we are operating way below average, way below 50 percent,” she said.

She added that due to the inadequate staffing in the health facilities, nurses are forced to multitask, work extra hours, and strain too much to deliver services satisfactorily.

Deche explained that quality service delivery in the health facilities is at risk and it will greatly improve if efforts are put into employing new nurses in the county.

“Go to the health centers the same whereby doctors are not there with only clinical officers at the health centers who are also few. So much of the work is done by the nurses. If we could invest and have more nurses in this county it can be a game changer in health service delivery,” she said.

Deche revealed that maternity services are the most affected in service delivery where expectant mothers visit maternity wards in large numbers for free delivery services but there are not enough nurses to handle them.

Her sentiments were echoed by Kilifi County Coordinator in the Reproductive Health Department Kenneth Miriti who stated that the lack of staff in public health facilities should be declared an emergency to save lives that might be lost due to poor service delivery.

Mr Miriti added that the government must take the responsibility to hire qualified and jobless nurses graduating every year in large numbers from MTCs in the country.

“It’s not because we lack qualified nurses in Kenya. Every year KMTC produces very many nurses but when you look at their absorption rate in employment, it is too low in both County and National government,” he said.

The Chairperson of the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) Kilifi branch Janet Rotich admitted that the problem has affected the provision of services and added that the delay in salaries has also made the situation worse.

However, deputy governor Flora Mbetsa said the health sector in Kilifi County has many needs that require urgent attention. She therefore asked the public to give the county government time to address the challenges.

She pledged that understaffing of nurses is an issue that is being addressed. She promised to personally make sure the County Government allocates money to hire new nurses in the coming budget for the financial year that will begin in a couple of months’ time.

By Jackson Msanzu

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