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Listen to the cry of our health workers

By Christopher Owuor
Tuesday, July 14th, 2020
Health workers protest. Photo/DORCAS MBATIA

On June 18, Moses Gitonga Ringera, a clinical officer, fell ill while at work at the University of Nairobi Clinic and was rushed to Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital.

Six days later, he succumbed to Covid-19 while undergoing treatment.  

Three days earlier, Clifford Manyara Mburia, a 58-year-old anaesthetist at the Kitengela Medical Centre, had succumbed to the virus while undergoing treatment at the Kenyatta National Hospital after contracting the virus in his line of duty.

The latest health worker to pay the ultimate price was Dr Doreen Adisa Lugaliki, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, who died last Friday at the Aga Khan Hospital and was laid to rest in Bungoma county on Monday.

Yesterday, acting Director of Health Patrick Amoth disclosed that a total of 429 healthcare workers had tested positive for the disease since the first case was reported in the country in mid March.

The government, he said, was providing psychosocial support and sufficient Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs) to the affected workers.

When reports emerged on Monday that 22 nurses at the city’s Pumwani Maternity Hospital had tested positive for the virus, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe was quick to allay fears of a disaster in the making, assuring that the situation at the premier maternity hospital was under control.

He also refuted claims that nurses at the facility had been exposed due to lack of PPEs, saying the government had more than enough.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, healthcare workers have, through their various unions, voiced concern about poor working conditions they are being exposed to as they go about their call of duty to save the lives of Kenyans.

There have been concerns about lack of quality PPEs, designated facilities for isolation and quarantine at various hospitals across the country, as well as lack of insurance cover for them. 

Going forward, the government must spare no resources and efforts to protect our healthcare workers who are putting their lives on the line on a daily basis to fight the pandemic which is ravaging the country and the world.

The government should not stop at providing PPEs to frontline staff, it should ensure all public health facilities are properly equipped with sufficient facilities to safeguard the lives of medical workers, including ventilators and face masks.

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