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September 22, 2018

Nurses criticise health law, say it locks them out of top jobs

Lawyers for Kenya National Union of Nurses Charles Wabwomba (left) and Edger Busiege address the media at Milimani law courts yesterday after filling a case challenging the new health bill signed last year. PHOTO/COLLINS KWEYU
Lawyers for Kenya National Union of Nurses Charles Wabwomba (left) and Edger Busiege address the media at Milimani law courts yesterday after filling a case challenging the new health bill signed last year. PHOTO/COLLINS KWEYU

A nurses’ union has challenged the implementation of a new health Act which it says denies them the chance to hold managerial positions.

The Kenya National Union of Nurses now wants the High Court to suspend the implementation of the law saying it is discriminatory.

The union said the law is unconstitutional because there was no public participation. In the run up to the legislation of the Health Act, the union sent a memorandum outlining areas it felt needed action prior to passing the law. However, the union’s input was ignored.

This made the union and its members believe the whole idea of asking for public participation was meant to hoodwink them yet a boardroom decision had already been made on what to legislate.

 

LIMIT RIGHTS

The union complained it limits the right of nurses in the public sector from holding office.

For instance, Section 2 defines a health care professional to include any person who has obtained health professional qualifications and is licensed by the relevant regulatory agency. The same statute excludes these health care professionals from managerial frameworks within the Health Act. The law in question bans anybody who isn’t a medical doctor from heading a health facility or from holding senior management position in both county and national government.

The union argues most of its members are in the public sector and some occupy positions that have been replicated in the new Health Act, 2017, but which are to be taken away if the new Act is implemented in its current form.

In their suit papers they contend that for Parliament to limit rights of any individual there has to be justifiable reason.

And in their case there is no justifiable reason given to remove the competence of nurses from qualifications they have hitherto held simply because they are regulated by a different regulatory authority.

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