NAIROBI, Feb. 11 (Xinhua) -- More than 300 personnel working for Kenya's specialized health agencies on Monday kicked off strike over poor remuneration and unfriendly working conditions.
The medical personnel working for four specialized agencies include port health services, National Spinal Injury Referral Hospital, Blood Transfusion Center and national mental hospital downed tools.
Senior official from the umbrella organization for nurses said the strike by specialized health workers will continue until there is full implementation of a collective bargaining agreement signed with the national government in 2017.
Maureen Nzioka, secretary of Nairobi branch of the Kenya National Union of Nurses, said specialized health workers are ready for dialogue with their employer to end stalemate over better terms of service like salaries, allowances and promotions.
"We are open to fruitful talks with the Ministry of Health to iron out disagreements over slow pace of implementation of a collective bargaining agreement signed more than two years ago to award us better salaries, house and commuter allowances," said Nzioka.
She said that a review of terms of service to reflect global best practices is key to boosting the morale of health workers stationed at strategic facilities like ports of entry and blood transfusion center.
"Our members provide essential healthcare services and are only appealing for recognition through regular promotions, trainings and a raise on allowances," said Nzioka.
The strike by specialized health workers who are employed by the national government threatened to paralyze critical services like blood transfusion, vaccination at the ports of entry as well as management of mentally ill patients.
Local media reported that mentally ill patients at the national mental hospital in Nairobi were in limbo as caregivers kept off the facility.
Imelda Achieng', a nurse at the Mathari National Teaching and Referral Hospital that caters for patients with mental disorders, said that absence of caregivers could have spillover effect on neighboring settlements.
"It is not our wish to have mentally sick individuals run amok and threaten peace in neighboring suburbs due to absence of nurses and other caregivers," said Achieng'.
"The standoff with the employer should end amicably to enable us to attend to mentally disturbed individuals under our care," she added.