Medical laboratory officers have joined nurses and clinical officers in their nationwide strike a move that will further deepen the crisis in the public health sector even as Covid-19 continues to ravage the country.
Kenya National Union of Medical Laboratory Officers chairman Adel Ottoman said the strike began yesterday, December 28. The strike was declared in Kisumu.
Dr Ottoman and his colleagues argue that the government has failed to recognise the important part medical laboratory workers play in helping patients.
“We have told our members to remain at home until the government begins taking us seriously,” Dr Ottoman said.
“We have started the strike today. Let Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe be told that he will not be giving the Covid-19 daily briefings if we are on strike.”
The workers are demanding a steady provision of appropriate and quality personal protective equipment (PPE). They also want the government to improve their monthly risk allowance to Ksh30,000.
Other demands include comprehensive medical cover, group life insurance, a Constitutional Health Service Commission, promotion and recruitment of more staff.
These are the same demands that nurses, clinical officers and doctors made when they declared their strike a few weeks ago.
Last Thursday, doctors called off their strike after inking a deal with the government.
On the other hand, nurses, who began their strike on December 7, continue to accuse the government of ignoring their demands and “favouring” doctors.
Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General Seth Panyako said recently that nurses and other healthcare workers are being offered inferior deals to end their strike.
Laboratory Officers affected by Covid-19
Dr Ottoman revealed that 267 medical laboratory officers have been infected with the coronavirus since the outbreak of the disease in the country in March.
“We have lost 50 medical laboratory officers to the deadly virus,” he said.
The union wants the government to employee at least 7,000 medical laboratory officers.
“Most of the government hospitals have one laboratory officer handling specimen from all sections,” he said.
“There is an acute shortage of staff, considering that many of our colleagues are down with coronavirus.”