The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers (KUCO) has Sunday issued a 17-day strike notice owing to lack of prioritization of Health Care Workers protection and welfare.
While addressing a presser, General Secretary George Gibore said that KUCO and by extension the medical fraternity was deeply disturbed by the unpreparedness and mishandling of COVID-19 by the Ministry of Health and County Governments.
“As part of streaming and standardizing the management of Coronavirus, MoH spent millions to formulate policies and guidelines geared towards the rational use of PPEs and infrastructure in all health facilities, but to our disappointment, those guidelines are not being implemented and almost all health workers lack the right PPEs to protect themselves,” he added.
Gibore also noted that so far four clinical officers, one intern and three senior clinical officers were among those who had passed on as a result of contracting Covid-19.
“It is worth noting that almost all health workers who have succumbed to the virus belong to the vulnerable group of the elderly, pregnant and those with pre-existing conditions.”
“These deaths would have been avoided had the government heeded to our advisories and those of WHO to excuse these categories from active duty,” Gisore said.
The General Secretary further noted that despite the employment of more health care workers on punitive terms in the name of Universal Health Care (UHC), they were doing 6 months without pay, majority of whom work in isolation centres.
In addition, Gobore noted that the said employees were also never considered for Covid-19 allowances despite their meagre pay and yet they are still expected to purchase their own PPEs and cover costs in case of Covid-19 infection.
Gibore in finality said that the union would hold an advisory meeting to discuss the raising infection and deaths among the health care workers and consequently consider issuing a demand letter with a 7-day ultimatum for the MoH and the 47 county governments.
Some of the demands KUCO are fighting for include:
All PPEs lying idle in KEMSA are distributed to health facilities immediately.
The government designate and equip health facilities for the management of Coviod-19 infected health care workers.
All health care workers be put on a comprehensive medical cover that provides for Covid-19 medication
All health care workers who are pregnant and above 55 years or with pre-existing conditions be directed to work from home.
All salaries for UHC staff deployed to counties be paid within the next 7 days.
Health risk allowances be increased to cushion health workers from financial stress.
10,000 health workers including 3,000 clinical officers be recruited and deployed to replace those exempted from active duty, replace those quarantined or isolated and manage the surging numbers of patients.
A health service commission be included in the Constitutional Amendment Bill to ensure better management of welfare.
Retraining and sensitization of health care workers on infection prevention and control in all facilities