Nurses have secured a pay deal addressing their uniform and nursing service allowances, the key contentious issue that had prolonged the impasse, ending a five month old strike that has caused Kenyans endless pains and deaths.
The deal followed a four-hour closed door meeting at the council of governors' (CoG) offices in Westlands between the nurses’ union, Ministry of Health, governors and County Public Service Boards.
“The strike that begun on June 5, has now been called off with immediate effect and those not able to go back to work immediately have up to tomorrow 5pm (Friday),” said the Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general, Seth Panyako.
“We have reached a deal. Sometimes it may not be as what members would have wanted and we apologise to Kenyans for a bear-collapse of the healthcare system because of the strike,” he added.
The health workers have agreed to a payment structure that would see their uniform allowance increase by 33 per cent per year up to financial year 2020/2021.
This means that when the allowance take effect in the financial year 2018/2019 each nurse would get a uniform allowance of Sh15,00 up from Sh10,000 increasing by Sh5,000 to Sh25,000 payable in a year in financial year 2020/2021.
The Nursing Service Allowance will go up by up to 13.2 per cent from Sh23,000 in the financial year 2018/2019 to Sh30,000 in 2020/2021.
The collective bargaining agreement (CBA) that the nurses have been pushing for is expected to be signed and registered in court in the next 30 days.
“We hope this would be free from any sort of hostile environment from parties involved,” said Mr Panyako.
The strike came at a time when the country is facing serious health threats including a malaria outbreak in Baringo, West Pokot and Turkana that resulted to deaths due to lack of healthcare services as nurses stayed away from over 50 per cent of public facilities, thus hampering diagnosis and early interventions.
Kenya has also been grappling with a cholera outbreak that has now hit Embu County.
Nurses have agreed to call off the strike at a time when the country is on high alert due to a deadly plague outbreak in Madagascar that has killed over 100 people and a resurgence of the Marburg virus disease in neighbouring Uganda.
Marburg has so far killed three people in Kween district, a part of Uganda that is close to the border with Kenya.
Nurses are a primary point of contact in any health facility before diagnosis and treatment is administered to patients.