Capital FM (Nairobi)

Kenya: Nurses Grumble After Deal to End Strike

Nairobi — The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) has threatened to go to court on Monday to block the government from devolving health services despite the health workers' strike being called off on Friday.

KNUN Secretary General Seth Panyako disowned the agreement signed between the government and health officials adding that his union was not fully involved, and concerns raised by the health workers were not addressed.

The other unions include the Kenya Health Professionals' Union (KHPU) and the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentist Union. (KMPDU)

"We are pushing for the revocation of the legal notice that unconstitutionally and illegally transferred national health facilities to County Governments. This is because when we do that we will have level 2 to level 6 of the health facilities remaining in the National Health referral system," Panyako emphasised.

He said the right process to call off the strike by involving National Executive Council and the National Governing Council of the three unions before signing the agreement with the government was not followed.

But Panyako urged nurses and all health workers to obey the return to work formula as it is binding.

"One will want to ask him or herself the reason why there was a rush to sign the return to work formula when indeed a constitutional petition has been filed in the High Court. The health workers in Kenya need a greater voice that will advocate for their rights," he charged. "We urge you health workers to respect the agreement because you have been left vulnerable and on your own. We shall ensure that your frustrations and fears are allayed in due course."

The union is now proposing that the government facilitate the formation of one umbrella body to address health workers' grievances and one which would speak in one voice.

"Currently the health workers feel betrayed by their leadership since it has not been able to consider a joint press conference to inform the members of their decision to call off the strike," he claimed adding that this may lead to apathy in terms of performance.

The strike which lasted for close to two weeks saw Kenyans denied crucial health services leading to deaths of eight unborn babies among other challenges, with others being forced to seek services from private health facilities at a high cost.

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