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Association says nurses key in UHC roll out

  KPNA President Michael Nyongesa. [Murithi Mugo, Standard]

The Kenya Nurses Progressive Association (KPNA) has warned that the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) will flop if community health nurses are not involved.

Speaking during the official opening of the Scientific Conference for the KPNA, the association President Michael Nyongesa, said that the government has not involved the nurses in promotive and preventive care.

"The nurses must be involved in the implementation committee of primary health care since they are well positioned at the dispensaries and Level 2 health facilities, and have a better understanding of the health challenges affecting the community," he said.

Nyongesa further challenged the Council of Governors (CoG) to come up with concrete plans to harmonise health workers' salaries and to ensure they are paid on the same date across the 47 counties.

He dismissed calls for health services to be taken over by the national government, saying devolution has several advantages, and CoG can handle the challenges facing the sector.

Embu Deputy Governor Kinyua Mugo admitted that the biggest challenge with the provision of quality health services has been funding and the previous regime did not do enough to generate revenue for the same.

"When we took office, the county government was collecting about Sh200,000, but we have improved revenue collections and are targeting a billion shillings per year," Mugo said.

He assured that Embu county government has prioritised healthcare and will engage the nurses and all stakeholders to ensure uninterrupted services throughout the year.

The theme of this year's conference is, "empowering the nurses as key pillars in primary health," and the event was preceded by repair surgeries where seven children with cleft lip and palate benefited at the Embu Level 5 Teaching and Referral Hospital.

Kenya National Union of Nurses Chair Joseph Ngwasi said the conference was taking place when the nurse-to-patient population ratio stood at 1:60.

"In Kenya, one nurse takes care of about 60 patients in a ward way below the World Health Organisation recommended ratio of 1:6, and we recommend that the government employs more nurses to bridge the gap," Ngwasi said.

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