Nearly four months after nurses in public hospitals downed their tools to protest a failure by the Government to honour a 2013 Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), there are signs that the stalemate could be resolved sooner rather than later.
Reports that the new county governments are reaching out to the nurses to end the stalemate is welcome. Evidently, there is a sense of urgency to resolve the matter and get the nurses back to the wards.
The strike kicked off at the wrong time when the country was in a political campaign mode. In fact, street demonstrations by nurses across the country hardly made it to the top of news bulletins. Even though the CBA was signed by nurses and the national government, there have been attempts to pass off the strike as the governors’ headache.
This buck-passing between county and national governments has not made things better. It is therefore a huge relief that the parties plan to give dialogue a chance.
The Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) should grasp the opportunity that beckons. The frequent industrial action from the medical fraternity is worrisome. There are those who rightly feel that it was imprudent to devolve health.
Indeed, the nurses went on strike hardly two months after a debilitating doctors’ strike that lasted 100 days ended. That was one of many since 2013.
A situation where hospitals are without nurses for close to four months qualifies for a national emergency deserving attention at the highest levels of governance, but sadly, that seems not to be the case.
This silence should not continue; Kenyans deserve an assurance that were they –or their loved ones– to fall ill, they will receive medical care.
No doubt, a dysfunctional medical services sector impacts negatively on the economy, especially when workers spend more time ailing because medical services have come to a standstill.
More importantly, the Government should go out of its way to prove it is not the bad guy it has been portrayed to be all along.