Health workers have continuously risked their lives while in the line of duty during this pandemic.
According to the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Doctors Union, 2552 health workers have contracted coronavirus as of 17th of November 2020. Out of this number, 30 health workers have died because of COVID-19.
Information released by the National Union of Nurses shows that 1168 nurses have been infected by COVID-19, while 15 nurses succumb to death. These nurses are from various wards such as the maternal ward nurses, theaters ward nurses, child health care nurses, and psychiatric nurses.
Understanding the Number’s
When you hear/ see in the news that 30 health workers have died because of COVID-19. Then you might dismiss the matter since the total number of Kenyans who’ve died as a result of COVID-19 is 1,518.
Here is why it is important to put this figure into context. The nurse to patient ratio is 1:1000 so when you lose one nurse there is a bunch of people who are depending on their health care.
Therefore, when one nurse loses her/his life, we have 1000 sick Kenyans who will be at risk because they won’t be provided with the healthcare they need.
Out of the 30 health workers who’ve died because of COVID-19, 10 of them are doctors. On the 14th of November 2020, the Ministry of Health reported 4 doctors died in just 24 hours.
These doctors come from various categories:
· Public health specialists
· Bariatric surgeon
· Orthopedic surgeon
Kenya has only 262 licensed practicing specialist doctors and the reason this information is important is that in less than 8 months we’ve lost 10 specialist doctors. Meaning that we have lost their expertise and knowledge.
It takes up to 15 years to train just one specialist, here is why:
· They take 6 years to get their undergraduate degree
· 1 year of internship
· 2-3 years of working
· 4 -6 years of specialized training
· 1-2 years of supervised work
And these specialized are key because not only are they specializing in their areas of expertise to provide better health care but they are also training undergraduates students and also training those who have graduated with a medical degree and they want to be specialists.
In a country that has about 7,333 registered doctors serving a population of 46 million losing 10 of them is a big deal because the doctor to patient ratio in Kenya is 1: 10,000. This, therefore, means that 100, 000 Kenyans are going to suffer because of the 10 patients that we’ve lost as a result of COVID-19.
Health Workers Strike
It is important to understand that all lives matter, but this why the Doctors’ Union of Kenya is furious with the Kenyan government because it hasn’t put enough effort to protect health workers. As a result, the Doctors Union are threatening to go on a strike until the government provides health workers with enough PPE together with a comprehensive medical cover.
“Our members have worked in extremely difficult, draining, hazardous, and injurious working environments,” it said in a statement that issued a 21-day strike notice to the government.
The Union Secretary-General Mwachonda Chibanzi said that they will not call off the strike until more doctors are hired and they meet their demands.
Mr. Mwachonda said, “We will be available for any engagement within those three weeks, failure to which we will have no choice but to rally our members for our nationwide strike.”
Mr. Mwachonda also urged doctors not to risk their lives while in the line of duty until the government guaranteed their safety.