Gov’t challenged to urgently address concerns raised by healthcare workers

The Office of the Ombudsman is calling on the Government to urgently address all healthcare workers’ concerns to avert a health crisis amid of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In its advisory opinion to the government, the Commission in a statement signed by chairperson Florence Kajuju called on Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe to engage conclusively with healthcare workers to resolve all outstanding issues.

Kajuju advising all investigative agencies to preserve evidence in the Kemsa scandal calling on the Health CS to exercise his powers under section 4 of the Kemsa Act to direct the authority to release Personal Protective Equipment without any further delay.

She also advised Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yattani to make use of his powers under Article 208(2) of the Constitution to utilize contingency funds to buy PPEs for healthcare workers.

The Commission is at the same time calling for the inclusion of KMPDU representatives in Covid-19 responses, as well as for a national consultative forum between both levels of government on the Covid-19 pandemic.

The opinion by the Commission comes just days to the expiry of the health workers strike notice.

Doctors and Nurses have threatened to down tools on the 6th and 7th of next month should the government fail to agree to their demands which include among others a comprehensive medical cover.

Through their respective national unions, the health workers are also demanding the release of salaries as well as absorption of contracted workers to permanent and pensionable terms.

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union says it will mobilize its members across the country to down tools should the government fail to address their concerns.

The union wants additional doctors deployed to counties to fight the COVID-19 pandemic as well as placing those training doctors under a comprehensive medical cover including risk allowances in line of duty.

In a recent brief by KMPDU Secretary General Chibanzi Mwachonda, the union noted that they had continuously engaged relevant government ministries, parastatals, the council of governors and the legislature (Senate and Parliament) over the last 8 months in a bid to address their plight.

The union, however, says it was met by persistent inaction by the government to resolve their issues; hence the unions review on its options.

Separately, the Kenya National Union of Nurses has also threatened to down tools should the government turn down its demands.

The nurses are demanding Ksh 30,000 monthly risk allowance and be provided with adequate and standard personal protective equipment.

The nurses are also demanding that they be issued with a group life insurance cover as well as the employment of 7,000 additional workforce to help in the fight against COVID-19

The doctors’ union issued their 21-day strike notice on November 15 which is expected to lapse on December 6 should the government fail to act, while clinicians issued their 14-days’ notice on November 22.

  

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