There's nothing to celebrate

There's nothing to celebrate

Elizabeth Wanjiru (seated), who is 101 years old, gets a medical checked up from Medhill Group of Hospitals nurse Velma Angatia (right) at Mji wa Huruma, Runda-Nairobi.

Photo credit: Bonface Bogita | Nation Media Group

The International Nurses Day was marked yesterday. During the Nurses Week, nurses celebrate milestones in the profession since the ancient times of Florence Nightingale.

Nurses play a pivotal role in the growth of the economy in that they ensure that the citizens are healthy enough to participate in economic development. But as espoused by US President Joe Biden, nursing remains the most underrated profession. It’s against this backdrop that nurses, especially in Kenya, may have little to celebrate.

As a nurse in Kenya, I can attest that nurses are a demoralised lot .The desperation and demotivation not only emanates from poor remuneration, grave understaffing and long working hours but also unfriendly and hazardous working environments, especially with the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Lost to corruption

Despite their patriotic endeavours, these godsent heroes and heroines are diminutively compensated and unfairly treated, pushing many of them into depression. Reuters reports that more than 25 medical practitioners have succumbed to the coronavirus since March last year. Most of the victims were their families’ breadwinners, rendering many destitute.

A few weeks ago, President Uhuru Kenyatta lamented that about Sh2 billion is lost to corruption daily — or more than Sh1 trillion annually. In addition, there have been inordinate cases of heists at the Ministry of Health — the latest being the Kemsa scandal, in which billions of shillings dissipated. These crimes are committed in broad daylight and at the expense of a crumpling healthcare system.

Admittedly, nurses contribute immensely to the GDP. The government should ensure that they are appreciated and supported accordingly. Their remuneration and compensation should be improved and standardised and their working conditions improved through installation of adequate requisite infrastructure and human resource.

Lastly, the ministry should start a kitty to take care of the families of nurses who die in the line of duty.

Mr Nyabuto is a senior nurse at Kenyatta University Teaching and Referral Hospital. [email protected]