The United Nations Children’s Fund has raised the alarm that the nurses’ strike, now in its 23rd day, will fuel more casualties in the disease outbreaks being reported in several parts of Kenya.
The UN agency wrote that the strike has impeded response. In a periodical report on the health needs of Kenya, Unicef listed the disease outbreaks.
The document says: “There is an active cholera outbreak in five counties (Garissa, Nairobi, Murang’a, Turkana and Nakuru) with 581 confirmed cases and seven deaths”. This excludes the recent cholera outbreak in Nairobi’s Weston Hotel.
There is also a dengue fever outbreak in Mombasa and Wajir with 1,015 cases and one death reported so far.
“A key challenge for the health sector is the ongoing nurses’ strike over delays in pay since June 7, 2017, which continues to affect access to health services, including integrated outreach services across all levels of care”, the report says.
Nurses take part in the administration of vaccines during outbreaks, which is meant to offer “herd protection” to a population at risk of infection and break the cycle of transmission of infectious diseases.
More than 25,000 nurses who participate in these exercises are on strike, paralysing medical provision in public hospitals, which attend to more than 80 per cent of the population.
Then there are 17 cases of measles reported in Garissa’s Dadaab refugee camp, the last on June 5. No death has been reported so far, however.
The three attacks, however, have had a low fatality rate of under 2 per cent of all cases.