Over 20,000 Kenyan nurses on Monday downed tools in protest of the lack of sufficient Covid-19 personal protective equipment (PPE).
Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) secretary-general Seth Panyako said nurses will not resume work until the government meets their demands.
One of their demands includes the compensation of families of the 26 nurses who have so far died after contracting Covid-19 in the line of duty.
“We have been waiting for the government to honor its pledge to address the plight of nurses but that has not happened, that is why the strike had to start and it will only end once the issues are addressed,” said Panyako.
“We have about 26,000 nurses, but those from Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral will not down tools because the two institutions have had made arrangements with the nurses.”
The union accuses both the national and county governments of doing little to protect the lives of healthcare workers.
“How many nurses must die for the government to come in? We need insurance cover for our nurses before we can go back to work. We have been left on our own, when a nurse dies, we form WhatsApp groups to contribute money yet we work for the government,” Panyako said, adding that the government must compensate nurses who have succumbed to the disease.
“We sent our officials to negotiate on our behalf, but nothing much to warrant strike suspension has happened.”
Panyako also hit out at the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) for calling off their planned go-slow at the last minute to give room for dialogue.
“We are not suspending our strikes, doctors have the best allowances with a risk allowance of Sh20,000 compared to nurses’ Sh3,800 so they don’t know what we nurses go through,” he said.