Kenya: More Health Workers Contract Covid-19 in Taita Taveta

3 December 2020

More than 30 health workers have contracted the Covid-19 disease in Taita Taveta County.

According to the union representing the medics, the number of health workers who have tested positive for the disease has risen from 20 to 30 in the last week.

Taita Taveta Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) chairperson Halima Hassan said the number could be higher. She accused the county's Health Department of failing to protect the medics by improving their working environment.

"We are not provided with enough and quality protective gear. Due to staff shortage in our facilities, some of our colleagues are forced to work even when they are supposed to be in quarantine," she said.

The medics' union in the county has issued a strike notice threatening to down tools on December 11, should the devolved unit fail to address their concerns.

Address concerns

The union wants the county government to address their concerns about safety at work, shortage of staff, adequate PPE, promotions, health insurance and delayed salaries.

"It is important that our employer properly equips us as we discharge our duties. We are putting our lives at risk and that of our clients. Unfortunately, our employer does not want to protect us for us to protect those around us," said Ms Hassan.

Addressing the media on Wednesday, the secretary of the medics' umbrella group in Taita Taveta, Mr Reuben Matolo, also demanded a fully equipped intensive care unit with enough workers to run the facility.

He said the county government was not committed to resolving their grievances.

"We have had several meetings but, to our surprise, they are not ready to give any commitments. We will not accept empty promises," he said.

The union's interim chairperson, Mr Ali Mumbo, urged the county government to get to the negotiating table to resolve the issue.

"We offer very important services to the public and we know that if we down our tools, patients will suffer. That is the reason we are asking our employer to solve our issues for us to remain at work," he said.

Conducive environment

In a previous interview, county executive for Health John Mwakima underscored the devolved government's commitment to protecting all its frontline workers by providing them with a conducive environment as they discharge their duties.

Although the CEC cited financial challenges in dealing with some of the grievances, he said the county government has and will continue to provide quality and adequate equipment to protect the workers from infection.

"We will ensure that the workers are fully protected as they go about their duties. We are trying our best to improve their welfare," he said.

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