Published on July 18th, 2017 | by KNUN
NAIROBI GRAND DEMOS
18TH JULY 2017
Yesterday marked the 43rd day of nurses strike. As usual more than 10,000 KNDF converged at Uhuru park for the historic movement. The gathering were welcomed with a word of prayer and a powerful sermon by sister Agnes from Nyeri. While on their knees, nurses prayed for the stability of their country Kenya, healthy Kenyans and their leaders with human hearts. They observed that every life is important and that no one deserved to die for lack of health care. Nurses forgave their oppressors and also asked to be forgiven where they had erred. They asked for God’s guidance and Interventions as God seemed to be the only hope that kept them going.
While addressing nurses at Uhuru Park and giving new strategies of how to conduct the strike, Deputy National Treasurer Mr. Shiveka urged nurses to be strong and courageous as he observed that the COG, SRC and MOH haven’t gone to court because nurses strike was and is still legal. That no nurse should be intimidated because the right to picket and right to assemble should be enjoyed by all as is enshrined in article 37 of the Kenyan constitution. “Together we bargain handsomely, divided we beg miserably” is a motto that Mr. Shiveka coined to emulate the power of unity among nurses.
The march to COG headquarters at Delta house was marked with peace and sobriety demonstrated by nurses who were eager to be addressed by the COG. No sooner had they reached the COG gates than they were welcomed by dozens of teargas canisters thrown at them by the police to disperse them. National Chairman Mr. Joseph Ngwasi was not impressed by the incident and announced that nurses were brave enough to endure such sufferings as good things are not easy to come by and that if teargas would deliver CBA, so be it. He further clarified that Union was ready for engagement but not re-negotiations. That they will continue to tell government that nurses are not affiliated to any political party. That their preferred candidate from the MCA to the Presidential was their CBA. He also observed that the media were more aligned to politicians giving them total coverage while nurses were ignored yet citizens were dying daily in the hospitals for lack of care. He urged the nurses who are not yet members of the union to register so as not to be intimidated.
Acting General Secretary Mr. Maurice Opetu, praised the nearly 100% representations by the 47 counties. The attendance was overwhelming and he thanked the various county officials for timely and proper coordination. He said that yesterday’s protest that was full of prayers was a dedication to the poor Kenyans since they were going through a very difficult time. He went further to say that Kenyans were sitting on a time bomb as the government continued to announce and attend funerals of the dignitaries but forget a common Kenyan who can not afford airtime to announce their funerals in newspapers, radios and TVs, a clear sign that they were less important.
Mr Opetu emphasized that Cholera being a waterborne disease is capable of clearing a large population in a minute and wondered why the Cabinet Secretary for health was not addressing the issue and why the government was keeping quiet on a crisis. He said that Nurses have been taken for granted but God above heard their prayers and that’s why Cholera started with the dignitaries at Weston Hotel and KICC, to sound a warning that an outbreak of a disease knows not the powerful, it sweeps all and sundry – a sentiment that was echoed by the National Treasurer Ms. Agnes Munderu. With pain and resilience, she asserted that Cholera management is a total nursing bed-care in the hospital and without nurses they cannot win the war on Cholera. That the untrained personnel currently taking care of the cholera patients in the hospitals were risking their lives and even helping in the spread of the disease since they lack formal training. She wondered whether there was any disaster preparedness put in place by the government as politicians were busy traversing the nation in campaigns. Mr. Opetu noted that no life should be lost due to carelessness and that health issues cannot be addressed without nurses in the picture. He was very sad that nurses at KNH and Nairobi hospitals are already affected by Cholera and urged them to come out and speak, to join other nurses in their cause for a better healthcare. ” How can KNH, the largest referral hospitals in East Africa be left to handle Cholera cases?” Posed the acting GS. He went further to say that Such cases should be handled by dispensaries like Kibera and Maturu dispensaries.
The Acting General Secretary also sent a message to The member of the 4th estate to get out of their confines and speak. To visit their neighborhood and the community at large and tell them that quality healthcare is a right that nobody can challenge or take away from them. He also reminded The ministry of health that the funerals for dignitaries is over and that they should come back and address the issue of nurses and find ways of ending the strike. He was very clear that Nurses are only ready to engage the government on the signing of the CBA but not re-negotiations.
The strike is likely to continue even after elections should the government continue to ignore the nurses and their importance in the health sector. Nurses vowed not to tire, relent or be intimidated in their quest for CBA. They were ready to camp at COG headquarters until their pleas is heard and acted upon.