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Nurses to resume strike, claim government has not implemented agreement

Health & Science
 Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako flanked by National nurses association Alfred Obengo

NAIROBI: Nurses have threatened to resume their strike in February if the government will not have paid them service allowance.

Secretary General of the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Seth Panyako made the announcement in Nairobi during a swearing in ceremony of new National Nurses Association of Kenya officials last Friday.

" I am hearing that it might not be paid; let anybody try and if we go out from February 1, we shall not come back until that CBA is completely negotiated signed and registered by the court," said Panyako.

The nursing service allowance agreed between the government and the nurses stipulated that nurses will get between Sh15,000 and Sh20,000.

He further said that health services in Kwale County will be paralysed as from Tuesday next week if a nurse who had been arrested for conducting an HIV test is not released.

The arrest of Irene Orina, a nurse in Diani was instigated by the Kenya Medical Laboratory Technicians and Technologist Board (KMLTTB) for allegedly working as a laboratory technologist without registration.

But Panyako argues, "The law that act that is being used to arrest her is obsolete and KNUN wishes to draw the attention of KMLTTB on the provision of the HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Act 2006 Section 2 which allows nurses to conduct tests."

The act allows healthcare providers such as medical practitioners or dentists, pharmacist or pharmaceutical technologist, nurse, clinical officer, laboratory technician and trained counselors to conduct HIV tests.

"It is beyond reasonable doubt that KMLTTB has no lawful mandate to purport to be in charge of counselling and testing of HIV, and should stop harassment and frustrations of healthcare workers protected by this act," said Panyako who demanded for the immediate release of the Ms Orina.

Alfred Obuya, the incoming chair of NNAK, which looks into nurses' professional and social welfare, said that finally the organisation had officials that nurses had confidence in.

The elections held on January 11, come after a series of court battles which have marked the association over the years since 2005.

"The issue of people coming and claiming that they are officials of the NNAK are over because the elections were held and supervised by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the win was a landslide," said Obengo.

The association has been marked with wrangles mainly revolving around abuse of office which led to the Court of Appeal giving the association 90 days to hold elections. There were elections in 2012 which were not considered credible, nor free and fair, according to Obengo.

"We had a special general meeting we threw out the leaders before the courts came up with a hybrid team to guide the association to elections and about 1,500 nurses delegates from all over the county attended," said Obengo who beat Jeremiah Maina's team.

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