As the country pushes to improve and strengthen primary healthcare as the backbone of Universal Health Coverage (UHC), the nurses’ fraternity has complained of being sidelined. The nurses under their umbrella, Kenya Progressive Nurses Association (KPNA), said they have been totally left out of the discussions and debate revolving around primary healthcare despite being their line duties in delivery of healthcare at the grassroots. KPNA President Michael Nyongesa said their contribution should not be ignored in the realization of UHC given their knowledge, competence and expertise as well as leadership. ‘Nurses have been trained on community health and as such primary healthcare and universal health coverage cannot be successful without their involvement,’ Nyongesa said. Speaking on Tuesday during the association’s three-day annual scientific conference being held in Embu, Nyongesa said they are the go between the patients and doctors and so their role cannot be wished away. He said they must be part and parcel of every discussion around healthcare provision at the grassroots for better health outcomes by placing more emphasis on preventive interventions such as screening, counselling and precautionary medications which are their duties. The president said that reports from community health workers and referrals essentially end up at the hands of nurses who coordinate care in collaboration with health care professionals. ‘What we need clarity on is why we are not involved yet whenever medical reports of patients are needed we are the ones called upon to do so,’ he said. Nyongesa said the devolving of healthcare to counties only served to weaken healthcare delivery as the majority of counties lack resources and capacity to handle the sector. ‘It is during devolution that we have witnessed rampant delays in payment of salaries, lack of promotion and skewed employment that has given rise to a state of despondency within the nursing fraternity,’ he said. He called on the Council of Governors (CoG) to take up the issues to streamline healthcare provision across all the counties. Embu Deputy Governor Kinyua Mugo who was the main guest at the conference, said they had initiated talks with healthcare workers to improve their working conditions. He said they are currently addressing the issue of shortage of nurses whereby they recently employed 75 nurses and are looking forward to double that number before the close of the current financial year. He also announced they had opened discussions with the workers with a view of putting those on contract on permanent employment.
Source: Kenya News Agency