Kenyan Health Workers Threaten Nationwide Strike Over PPE & Fraud
Kenya’s health workers threatened a nationwide strike amid allegations of corruption in the procurement of personal protective equipment, which they say is compromising safety as they battle the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of health-care unions plan to stop work on Sept. 10 in protest at inadequate and substandard PPEs that has resulted in increasing infections and deaths, Peterson Wachira, the chairman of the Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, said by phone from the capital, Nairobi.
They would join doctors already on strike in Nairobi over allegations that government officials were buying equipment at inflated prices even as Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s foundation and China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. have donated medical supplies to African countries.
“These are matters of life and death. They are not negotiable,” Wachira said. About 850 health-care workers have contracted Covid-19 and 16 have died, he said.
Five labor unions representing nurses, clinical officers, laboratory technicians, nutritionists and pharmaceutical technologists are also demanding medical and health insurance, enhanced risk allowances and employment of additional staff in public hospitals.
The Nairobi Metropolitan Service is in talks with doctors, Ouma Oluga, the chief officer of health at the city authority, said by phone. Thuranira Kaugiria, a doctors’ union official, confirmed the negotiations.
Kenya has so far recorded 32,803 confirmed cases and 559 fatalities, according to the Ministry of Health.