Kenya is one of the many African countries where the levels of poverty, corruption, and lack of sanitary conditions are just unbelievable.
In the last few months, Kenyans were entertained by politicians of dubious moral virtues during the presidential election campaign.
Amidst the political campaign, over 25.000 nurses initiated a strike on June 5th for an indefinite period and without any guarantees of assuring nursing care to the population. Among other things, the healthcare professionals demanded better working conditions and pay as provided in a collective bargaining agreement signed with the government.
As a consequence of the strike, many of the public hospitals had to close their doors due to the lack of nurses. The people were left only with the alternative of private hospitals, but the vast majority of the population can’t even afford to seek care at those hospitals.
Several deaths were already attributed to the lack of nursing care. In addition to the deaths, the nurses’ strike is also directly connected to the obvious degradation of sanitary conditions of the population. Two of the most critical areas affected by the strike were vaccination and prenatal care.
Since the beginning of the strike, Kenyans have had to travel long distances to get the health care they need. Even after dozens or, often, hundreds of miles, they have no guarantee that they will be taken care of when they arrive at hospitals still in operation.
This strike is far from being consensual. Several episodes of divergence between leading figures of the Kenyan nurses’ union, KNUN, have contributed to the strategy of discredit that so pleases and serves the purposes of the government.
In any other nation, we might think that in the midst of an election campaign, politicians would try to resolve the nurses’ situation or at least promise they would do so if elected. Well… but not in Kenya, where politicians have simply chosen to largely ignore this problem that so gravely affects the population.
I can’t even imagine what Kenyans have been through without nurses for almost 3 months. It must be a chaotic and dramatic situation for those people who need nursing care and can not access them.
On the other hand, I agree that nurses should use all the power they have in the law to force the government to honor the collective bargaining agreement already signed between the parties. Apparently, in Kenya, there’s no law that forces nurses to provide care as minimum services during strikes.
What is incomprehensible, in my point of view, is the position of the Kenyan government that continues to ignore nurses and the suffering inflicted on the population by the absence of these health professionals.