By Joyce Gathu
In hospital corridors, its common to see nurses running up and down attending to patients within an inch of death. Some patients have such gory wounds — they send chills down your spine.
But for this health workers, this are regular scenes and they will react swiflty to save a life not minding the bloody stains left on their uniform.
In the line of duty, they come into contact with scores of illnesses, some highly contagious, but their business is to save life.
Has it ever crossed your mind that their work constantly predisposes them to multiple diseases, a good number of them even fatal, in order to save your life?
Under the International Labour Organisation, the Government has an obligation to guarantee the safety of health workers in public facilities. However, a majority continue to work under vulnerable conditions, frequently exposing themselves to deadly, infectious diseases.
“While all health workers, nurses included, are supposed to be vaccinated against meningitis, cholera, Hepatitis B and pneumonia, most the Government facilities do not offer them,” Lucia Buyanza, a senior official of the National Nurses Association of Kenya (Nnak) says.
Only health workers who can afford the exorbitant costs of vaccination in private hospitals, receive this crucial immunisations.
This leaves out another significantly large number of health care workers at risk.
“The vaccines cost between Sh1,000 and Sh15,000. However, this is beyond the reach of a majority of health workers whose medical allowances remain sparingly low at Sh3,850, while the risk allowance stands at Sh5,000. This is not enough to buy the vaccines,” explains Buyanza during an interview with My Health.
Further, she notes that there are occasions where nurses are forced to improvise basic supplies such as gloves due to stock-outs.
Buyanza says that there are still no clear mechanisms to protect health workers from the bacteria and viruses that they battle with on a daily basis, in pursuit of public health and welfare.
She observes that one area where attention has been paid to, is the area of HIV and Aids.
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