A nurse strike in Kenya, which began in the month of June, is seriously affecting the health of Kenyans, due to a mix of unavailability of healthcare and poor infrastructure. It does not help matters that the climate in Kenya is a harsh one. The strike started over disputes in pay. The average pay for a nurse in Kenya is about $200 every month. The cease work has resulted in mothers dying from the complications of childbirth and the reemergence of malaria. Children have also missed out on vital vaccinations.
About 25,000 nurses belonging to the Kenya National Union of Nurses put forward the demand that the Kenyan Government signs the Collective Bargaining Agreement or CBA. Their demand was rejected. The list of requests under CBA includes health risk and uniform allowances. Officials said that if these demands are met, the taxpayers would be burdened.
Seth Panyako, the secretary general of the Kenya Union of Nurses, opined that the CBA was unnecessarily politicized. The insincerity of the government has resulted in the long strike. Privileged Kenyans are immune as they utilize private healthcare. The Kenyan healthcare system has broken down as 95 percent of the country's health sector is public.
The question of ending this strike by nurses has not been pledged by any politicians even as Kenya prepares for its presidential elections. Both the ruling and the opposition party leaders have not expressed concern about the matter. President Urhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga, the leader of the opposition, has promised to rejuvenate the health sector. For poor Kenyans, Catholic dispensaries are now the only places to obtain any medical help. Compounding the existing problem is the dismal infrastructure. The terrain is very bad; only four-wheel drives can navigate the terrain.
Peter Marete of Merti Health Center, said that a majority of services are not available in the hospital. The clinical officer said that only the urgent cases are being attended to with a skeleton staff. Children are given injections to ward off kala azar, the second biggest killer after malaria in the world. If let untreated, kala azar will cause death. Ambulances to ferry patients are few. Services like maternity, vaccinations, and family planning are mostly closed now in a majority of centers. Doctors hope that the strike by nurses will end quickly as many women are dying and children suffer due to no vaccination being given to them.