Agony and pain as nurses strike demanding better pay, allowances

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Agony and pain as nurses strike demanding better pay, allowances
Nurses want implementation of salary agreement.

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Mbagathi District Hospital
Unoccupied beds at Mbagathi District Hospital in Nairobi on Monday, February 04, 2019. Most patients have been transferred to private hospital as nurses in public hospital began their countrywide strike.

The strike was called by the Kenya National Union of Nurses to press for the implementation of a collective bargaining agreement signed on November 2, 2017.

Health workers in the Rift Valley, Nairobi and Coast remain at home while residents of Elgeyo Marakwet fear a hepatitis B vaccination campaign could grind to a halt.
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Mr Mumo Mutisya remembers the four hours it took him to travel by matatu from his Yatta home in Machakos to Mbagathi Hospital in Nairobi.

He was taking his friend Alex to the city to donate blood for his wife Gladys, a cancer patient. She was admitted to the hospital in the first week of January.

“My wife was in pain for a while and I took her to several hospitals in Machakos. When we brought her to Mbagathi a month ago, doctors found that she had cancer,” Mr Mutisya said.

CHEMOTHERAPY

He added that his wife had already had 12 sessions of chemotherapy when he asked Alex to donate blood.

Unfortunately, Mr Mutisya and his friend could not get the services they required when they arrived at the hospital yesterday, for there were no nurses.

The ward where Mr Mutisya’s wife is admitted is usually a hive of activity, but the silence was loud Monday.

“The chemotherapy sessions could not proceed for there was no nurse on duty to help Alex donate blood. We had no other alternative but to look for another hospital to transfer her to,” a dejected Mr Mutisya told the Nation.

When Nation journalists caught up with the three at the Mbagathi Hospital gates, they were heading to St Mary’s Hospital in Lang’ata.

“I require urgent medical attention. St Mary’s is the only alternative at the moment,” a visibly weak Gladys told the Nation team.

Mr Mutisya, a businessman, said doctors told him his wife should have a blood transfusion before the chemotherapy session.

“I had to talk to my friend into donating blood for my wife. I don’t know what will happen,” he said.

Gladys is one of the tens of thousands of patients whose recovery is at risk following the strike by nurses, which began Monday.

GRIEVANCES

The strike was called by the Kenya National Union of Nurses to press for the implementation of a collective bargaining agreement signed on November 2, 2017.

Gladys’ plight would have been addressed had the national and county governments averted the strike earlier.

By Sunday, when Labour Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani appointed a conciliatory committee to address the nurses’ grievances, a lot of goodwill had been lost between the parties in dispute.

The minister said the committee, chaired by Mr Haron Mwaura, would find a solution to the human resources and other challenges facing the health sector in Kenya.

He gave the team, comprising representatives from the Council of Governors, the nurses union and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, 30 days to table a report.

However, Knun secretary-general Seth Panyako played down the Labour Cabinet secretary’s efforts.

“What we want is the implementation of the salary agreement and not new negotiations,” Mr Panyako told journalists.

The Cabinet secretary directed the committee to seek proposals from other government agencies so that the human resource aspects in the Health Ministry are addressed “once and for all”.

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In Nairobi County, nurses held street demonstrations demanding allowances they were promised in the return-to-work agreement sig

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