57 WILL GO HOME NEXT YEAR

Fears of health crisis as retired Laikipia nurses 'fail' to be replaced

Voilunteers offer health services in remote areas.

In Summary

• The county government urged to allocate more funds to the Health department to employ nurses.

• Some 3,653 children are yet to be immunised because of a shortage of nurses.

John Ngugi from DSW speaks to journalists on the shortage of nurses in Laikipia county
HEALTH: John Ngugi from DSW speaks to journalists on the shortage of nurses in Laikipia county
Image: /ELIUD WAITHAKA

A shortage of nurses in Laikipia occasioned by "the failure" to replace those who have retired may cripple health services, civil society groups and voluntary health workers have said.

The groups, which have been volunteering to offer health services in remote villages, said by next year, 57 nurses in the region will have retired and there are no plans by the county government to replace them.

John Ngugi from DSW on Friday said the county government should allocate more funds to the Health department to employ workers who are key players in the sector.

“The community health workers have been overstretched due to the fact that most dispensaries have one nurse and in case of personal emergencies, the health facilities are left closed,” Ngugi said.

Last week, Governor Ndiritu Muriithi said he is not planning to hire new county staff to cut on the wage bill.

The groups spoke to journalists during a training on the need to hasten the rate of immunisation among children under five years. They said in Laikipia East subcounty the number of unimmunised children is growing rapidly.

During the last three quarters of data collection starting July last year, the number of children who never followed the immunisation procedure rose from 280 to 360 in Laikipia East. The trend is worrying.

David Wanjohi said the number of children aged below one targeted for immunisation is 17,359. Some 3,653 are yet to be reached because of a shortage of nurses. The work has been left to VSOs who are yet to receive their token of Sh2,000 each per month.

“There are 647 community health workers who are working in Laikipia, but they lack empowerment from the county government considering the terrain and size of the county,” he said.

The fear is that the affected children may not be reached and might be a threat to those who have been immunised.

Some immunisations include measles, polio, whooping cough, tetanus, cervical cancer and haemophilia.