Kenya: Nurses Issue Ultimatum Over Pumwani Crisis

The Kenya National Union of Nurses has now issued a seven-day ultimatum to both national and county government over Friday’s closure of Pumwani Maternity Hospital in Nairobi due to issues of public mistrust and security.

The union’s General Secretary Seth Panyako says they want all the grievances addressed within the period, failure to which all health workers in Nairobi County will go on strike.

To address security concerns, Panyako says the government must construct a police station within the hospital similar to one at Kenyatta National Hospital. “We plead that you direct for standby security officers to arrest any troublemakers who come to disrupt the service provision at the hospital,” he appealed. “We also want the President to direct the deployment of all health workers to other institutions to help them recover from stigma and fear instituted by the neighbouring community and the visiting patients and their guardians.”

He told a news conference that already, a section of the nurses have been physically abused and threatened by people who accuse them of stealing or killing their babies. An example they gave is an incident on April 5 where a grandfather of an infant who had succumbed to a natural cause of death insulted health workers at Pumwani calling them, “dogs, devils, killers and all other sorts of obscenities.” “He crowned it all by openly urinating at the main reception of the hospital as he insulted the workers.”

Also in their list of demands is an increase to nurses and redeployment of the current health workers to other health institutions in a bid to restore the already lost public confidence in the hospital. “We beg for the immediate deployment of about 247 nurses to address the shortage of support staff in order for the nurses to do their duties as prescribed by Nursing Council of Kenya and stop performing duties that are not within their job description,” he stated.

He said both President Uhuru Kenyatta and Nairobi County Governor Evans Kidero should not neglect the hospital where they were born.

The union also wants a face lifting of the hospital and expansion of the hospital to create more delivery rooms.

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