Agony of health workers who fundraise for colleagues' medical bills - Beaking Kenya News

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Friday, 6 November 2020

Agony of health workers who fundraise for colleagues' medical bills

 

Healthcare workers now want their welfare to be given utmost priority by the government as they continue fighting Covid-19 in the country.

The workers on Thursday said their welfare is not guaranteed, with those hospitalised after contracting the virus required to foot their own bills.

A case in point is a situation where they had to raise Sh250,000 for their colleague who died  from the virus. The body was retained by hospital.

“We are asked to pay a huge chunk of money, including here in Kenyatta University Referral Hospital. We have someone who died there, they are asking for over Sh250,000 for them to release the body and this is a Covid body being retained,” Kenya Union of Clinical Officers secretary general George Gibore said.

"This is quite unfortunate. In our country, we have policies, and decisions are made by politicians and people who never seek services in the public sector. They do not know the pain of the healthcare workers. Neither do they know the pain of Wanjiku.”

They further want a directive issued to exclude elderly and pregnant colleagues, or those with pre-existing conditions, from active duty until the virus is brought under control, adding that all healthcare workers who succumb to the virus belong to this vulnerable group.

They have disputed data by the government, which puts the number of healthcare workers who have contracted the virus at 1,665.

"I have heard some people giving some mathematics that the healthcare workers who are infected are around 1,700. We are saying they are over 2,170. The reason is the ministry has segregated healthcare workers; those who are skilled and those who are non-skilled,” Gibore said.

Healthcare workers in Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on November 5, 2020
Healthcare workers in Uhuru Park, Nairobi, on November 5, 2020
Image: WILFRED NYANGARESI

According to the official, the unskilled are the community healthcare workers who are involved by both the county and national governments but they do not get provision for PPE, yet they are the most vulnerable.

“There is coming a time when we feel insecure. We will leave those facilities and let them come and serve the Kenyans.”

KUCO chairman Peterson Wachira said the government should continue paying the emergency Covid-19 allowance to enable healthcare workers to procure their own PPE when they can't access them, to motivate them.

Wachira noted that most healthcare workers are not assured of medical care when they fall ill with Covid-19, adding that the emergency allowance was withdrawn in June and they are paid a risk allowance that is not commensurate with the risk they are exposed to at the workplace.

“Several health workers have had to fundraise to pay medical bills in several hospitals after contracting Covid-19 in the line of duty,” Wachira said.

Healthcare workers under the national government have been on strike since October 29 demanding promotions and job redesignations, arguing that some have stagnated in the same job groups for more than 15 years.

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