Nurses and clinical officers in Siaya have vowed to keep off public health facilities as the ongoing medical staff strike entered day ten.
The health workers, led by the National Deputy Secretary General of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO), Austin Oduor, Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Siaya branch secretary, Sylvester Ng’anda Ochieng and his KUCO, Siaya branch counterpart, Kennedy Opiyo Omondi said they were prepared to go on strike indefinitely to push for their rights as front line workers.
Addressing the media outside Siaya County Referral Hospital on Wednesday, the workers accused both the counties and national governments of lack of seriousness to address their demands.
KNUN Siaya branch secretary, Mr Ng’anda said national and county governments keep on tossing health workers around whenever they raised critical issues touching on their work environment and welfare.
“We want the two levels of government to sit down and stop tossing us around. When we raise our issues, the county governments refer us to the national government which later refers to us as devolved staff whose grievances can only be addressed by county governments,” said Ng’anda.
Ng’anda called for the formation of a Health Service Commission to address the critical issues affecting the sector, adding that the proposed advisory council, as proposed by the Building bridges Initiative will not achieve anything.
Siaya KUCO branch secretary, Kennedy Opiyo Omondi tearfully narrated how he contracted the Covid-19 while on duty at the Siaya county referral hospital and had to fund his treatment from his pockets.
“I am one of the officers who contracted Covid-19 in the course of duty in October this year. Nobody came to my assistance and I had to fund my treatment from my own pocket,” he said.
Omondi lamented that clinical officers and nurses cannot afford health care service that they provide to the public when they find themselves sick.
He said that Nurses and clinical officers handle 90% of the patients who seek services at public hospitals, leaving doctors with only 10% hence it was not fair to give them a raw deal in issuance of risk allowance.
KUCO national secretary general, Austin Oduor said the over 40,000 nurses and clinical officers countrywide will not be cowed into resuming work before their demands were met.
He urged the government to heed public pressure and suspend Building bridges Initiative activities and direct the resources towards implementing health workers demands.
Among the issues that the health workers want addressed are the improved risk allowance, comprehensive medical cover, a group insurance policy, employment of more staff to reduce work load and provision of personal protective equipment while on duty.
By Philip Onyango