Trans Nzoia: Paralysis looms as health workers issue strike notice

Kenya National Union of Nurses Trans Nzoia chairman Willy Sifuna addressing journalists at the Kitale county hospital on June 18, 2020. Photo/Aspect News

Health personnel stationed in public health facilities in Trans Nzoia County will down tools on Monday to protest a failure by the area county government to address matters related to their welfare.

The personnel through the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) and the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers said they would rather stay at home due to delayed salaries and occupational hazards owing to exposure to Covid 19.

“We will not report on duty on Monday since nobody has responded to the issues we highlighted in our strike notice,” (KNUN’s) Trans Nzoia branch chairman Edward Cheruiyot told journalists at the Kitale county Hospital.

Mr. Cheruiyot said Governor Patrick Khaemba’s administration has overlooked the importance of safeguarding the lives of health workers with regard to Covid 19 pandemic protection measures yet they are first line soldiers at a high risk of infection.

“Those handling Covid 19 patients at the Mt. Elgon Covid 19 isolation facility are at a higher risk since they are not supplied with the right personal protective equipment (PPEs). They are, for instance, issued with non-medical face masks,” he said.

The union’s branch secretary Willy Sifuna accused the county government of hoodwinking locals with messages of proper preparations for handling Covid 19 patients saying it is a mere public relations exercise put in place to cover up the misuse of funds.

“The five ICU beds at the MT. Elgon isolation center are not working and tests have ascertained that the oxygen concentration levels are too low. We should not play public relations with people’s lives,” said Mr. Sifuna.

The branch secretary of the Kenya union of clinical officers (KUCO) Godfrey Nyongesa accused the  county government of forcing their members aged 58 and above to report on duty yet they are at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

“The county government has failed to hire more clinical officers to bridge the gap. Our aged members who have underlying health conditions are being exposed to the virus,” said Mr. Nyongesa.