Why a luminous future awaits degree nurses in Kenya

“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do, you have to keep moving forward.” These are the words of Martin Luther King Jr. that ostensibly fit into the grim case of neglect that for a long time has been the reality for graduate nurses in Kenya. As nurses observe the national nurses week, it is crucial to realize how we have remained undaunted in the struggle and have certainly made tremendous progress.

A previous KNUN industrial action [Photo|courtesy]

As published last month, health prime told of the ruinous situation of unemployment among undergraduate nurses. The inequalities of job allocations turning out like an abrupt vile missile from hell immediately one is done with his/her internship program.

But as they say, every dark cloud has a silver lining; the disregard has brought us together in a bid to mount pressure on the government to quickly salvage the situation.

This source spoke to Rashid Salim who is the chairperson for the Kenya Students and Novice Nurses (KESNNUR) which is a chapter under the National Nurses Association of Kenya (NNAK) and can reliably report that things will soon get better if only we don’t loosen the noose.

Rashid Salim, the KESNNUR chairperson [Photo|courtesy]

Rashid, a graduate from the University of Nairobi said that there lies short term and long term initiatives to channel our grievances. One of the long term strategy is to form a union that will proactively and specifically fight for degree nurses’ welfare.

On the short term achievements made so far, we have seen rising concerns for better employment terms from the media and Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN). Amazingly, the struggle has seen a submission of our tribulations reach the Senate Health Committee.

“I think so far it has been positive, because every time KNUN talks, they are also talking about BscN’s, if you listen to NNAK the chairperson is talking about BScN’s, there was a submission to the Senate Health Committee, they’ve mentioned BScN’s. In terms of employing all cadres of nurses I think we’re at a point where people tell we exist and also (we) need to be employed,” Rashid told Health Prime.

On the proposed Health Service Commission (HSC) he said that it may be a breakthrough especially at a time when there are clear lines on how county governments are managing their health sectors. The said HSC will be managing health care personnel and effectively recommending to counties on employment of healthcare workers.

“Devolution is costing us a lot, if you look at people in Machakos, they’re enjoying, but if you look at Kirinyaga, Vihiga, it’s just too bad,” opined Rashid.

He added: “HSC will centralise the channel of communication. If you do a letter to HSC, your grievances will be addressed other than now, if you write to a county, county A will respond, county B will reject or not even respond.”

In establishing channels that successfully advocated for intern nurses to be paid, Health Prime also sought the word Phillip Wechuli, a degree nurse who manages interns at the Kakamega County General Teaching and Referral Hospital. (KCGTRH)

He said that it took about 5 years of lecturers and students writing letters to the Ministry of Health before the Public Service Commissioned accommodated interns in the payroll. The recommendation was adopted by former Minister for Finance Amos Kimunya who for the first time allocated funds for interns in 2009.

With the above initiatives, we, the descendants of Florence Nightingale should know there is always space on the coffee table. We remain unbounded and keep the faith that if only we continue pushing for our agenda, a stamp for our rightful position shall come.

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