Nurses' union to sue over nurses who contracted Hepatitis A in Kirinyaga

Some health professionals displaying the dirty linen at the Kerugoya Referral Hospital and which has compelled them to issue a 72 hour ultimatum to address the issue or else they down their tools issue. [Munene Kamau/Standard]

The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) has vowed to press charges against Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru after nurses contracted diseases at Kerugoya Referral Hospital.

Union Secretary General Seth Panyako said at least five nurses got infected with Hepatitis A while more than seven others ended up catching cholera due to the facility’s deplorable state.

He also threatened to call for the withdrawal of nursing services at the hospital until the situation is addressed. 

"Hepatitis A is a terminal disease, meaning the nurses infected will have to manage the disease for the rest of their lives," he said.

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Speaking to journalists in Kakamega town yesterday, Mr Panyanko said the union had dispatched a team of experts to the county to establish circumstances under which the nurses contracted the diseases while in line of duty.

“The union demands all the affected nurses to be compensated and we shall not stop at anything in ensuring justice is served,” said the official.

According to Panyako, the union has already instructed its lawyers to take up the matter “once our team concludes its investigations in the county".

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He wondered why the county government decided to sack 346 casual workers at the leading county facility living the hospital in a filthy state.

“Waiguru’s administration demonstrated that it understands nothing about the health system management, you cannot sack workers without putting in place measures to deal with implications of such a decision,” said Panyako.

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The development comes hot on heels of threats by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) to withdraw doctors from the hospital.

KMPDU officials had issued 72-hour ultimatum to Governor Waiguru to reinstate sacked casual workers or face its wrath. Meanwhile, Panyako has accused private health facilities of hiring quacks instead of qualified nurses.

He regretted that professional practicing nurses have been blamed for deaths caused by quarks operating in most private facilities across the country.

Panyako said the union will take its share of blame where necessary. “We are aware of one incident where one of our nurses was sacked and banned from practicing in Makueni County for negligence leading to an infant's death. Two other incidents reported at Shalom Hospital involving a child and a pregnant woman were caused by hospital workers who aren't qualified nurses,” he said.

He urged county governments to hire more nurses on permanent and pensionable terms as part of improving service delivery in hospitals.

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KNUNSeth PanyakoHepatitis AKerugoya Hospital