Other than the baby who was born with its brain outside the skull and died, Roba Salat who died from chronic TB in Tana River on the very day nurses strike commenced, hundreds of premature babies who have been transferred to private hospitals for incubation services with some dying in the process, celebrity actor Maureen Wanza who died from excessive bleeding during childbirth in a Kilifi hospital, and a few other cases where dialysis patients have to travel hundreds of kilometers to get their services, children who have to forego receiving vital immunization services, and mothers who can’t receive antenatal care for their babies, the country seem to be moving just fine despite the 122 days of nurses strike.
Apart from the celebrity actress who died during childbirth, the nurses strike is not a problem on who is who in Kenya, at least as far as the economic prosperity is concerned. As an individual for instance, I can’t remember the last time I visited a public hospital – no I can remember, it was in early November 2004 when my father was admitted at Mbagathi District Hospital, an hospital that let him die of hunger. The nurses at the hospital actually reprimanded me when I tried to give him food. Following his death, I swore never to seek medical services from public hospitals.
Kenyans like me who drive the economy of this nation are therefore not affected by the ongoing nurses strike. Even those who must receive medical services from the public hospitals, there are doctors and other health officers who can attend to their needs. The public hospital near me is actually busy on a daily basis signifying availability of medical services despite the persistent nurses strike.
It is thus very clear that we do not need nurses, at least not in the public hospitals. This is more so after the government increased the doctors pay, following which the doctors are expected to deliver over and above their usual job descriptions, to deliver services that include the services that are normally delivered by the nurses. For those individuals in dire need of nursing services from trained nurses, they can seek those services in private hospitals.
For the individuals who if they don’t receive nursing services in public hospitals the alternative is death, it is clear they are better off dead – after all, they are not the who is who in the country’s economy. The whos and whos of this country are people like doctors, nurses, teachers, accountants, lawyers, engineers, economists, rich farmers (like those who own ranches), and important private, public and state officers who when they fall sick seek treatment in USA, Europe, India, South Africa and Nairobi Hospital. They are the people who technically speaking have never needed nursing services from Kenya’s public hospitals – people whose friends and relatives can never die as a result of the nurses strike. They are the people who are rightly called Kenyans.
As can be seen therefore, Kenyans haven’t been affected by the ongoing nurses strike. Those who have been affected are some peasant human beings whose lives don’t matter, don’t count, don’t add value to the collective well being of the Kenyan society. They are people who, if they happen to live in Moyale and Mandera and Lodwar towns, are not aware that they are citizens of a country called Kenya. Those affected are peasant humans that the media cannot dare give sufficient airtime to cover their suffering because they practically add no value to the quality of the prime time news. They are people who Kenya can do without.
The sooner the nurses can learn that Kenyans who matter can live without them, the sooner they will let go of their useless strike that has zero effect on Kenya’s economy. Actually the nurses strike is economically retrogressive as it requires in increase in the wage bill at a time when the only people the country can afford to increase their salaries are the Senators, the MPs and MCAs.