KENYA. Nairobi: The Kenya Union of Clinical Officers today called off their 70-day strike following a court order yesterday.
The clinical officers had downed their tools and abandoned patients in hospitals across the country on November 23 last year, after several weeks of issuing strike notices. This then led to panic among patients in hospitals in the country and their loved ones who were concerned about their health.
The officers had also cited issues of lack of government commitment to assure them of safety while handling COVID-19 patients and said that they were being exposed to the disease, or as well infected their patients since they had not been tested and assured of their status.
They also decried a lack of comprehensive insurance cover to take care of them when they tested positive for the disease. This, as close to 40 healthcare workers have died of COVID-19 in the line of duty so far since Kenya reported the first case in March last year. The deceased health workers left bills amounting to millions of Shillings at the hospitals that the government had promised to clear but did not.
Announcing the end of the strike today, the national chairman at the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Peterson Wachira, said that even though they had complied with the court order, they were not going to voluntarily expose themselves and that they were going to offer services when supplied with the appropriate protective gear.
“We remain vigilant and focused to ensuring that the welfare, rights and safety of Clinical Officers is upheld at all times”, he said.
Last year, the clinical officers had claimed that they lack personal protective equipment (PPEs) to enable them safely attend to COVID-19 patients, saying that their job was now a “suicide mission”. This, as the said PPEs were reportedly lying at the Kenya Medical Supplies Agency (KEMSA). Also, they claimed to have been frustrated by the government through the lack of comprehensive insurance, motivation through promotions, and timely salary payments.
“We urge our employers, especially the Council of Governors, to sign and implement the return to work formula (RTWF) so as to provide a conducive working environment for our members to deliver services in a safe environment”, Wachira said.