Health Workers Must Say no to Punitive Laws and Policies

Health Workers Must Say no to Punitive Laws and Policies

By Afya Times

Nurses comprise the hugest chunk of healthcare professionals that leave Kenya in search of jobs abroad that supposedly pay better and offer better working environments.

Top destination countries include the United Kingdom (UK), the USA, and Australia.

For a long time, the emigration of nurses had largely remained unchecked until the recent past when the dissatisfied health workers began to leave in record numbers.

Currently, the Nursing Council of Kenya (NCK) receives thousands of applications annually from locally registered nurses that want to seek employment opportunities in first-world nations.

Doctors and clinical officers have also joined the bandwagon. A recent memo authored by Dr. Patrick Amoth, the Director General for Health urging all heads of directorates, departments, and divisions at the Ministry of Health to attend a meeting scheduled for 16th February 2023 to rubber stamp a draft migration policy has sparked anxiety among health workers planning to move abroad.

The draft migration policy that was purportedly developed in consultation with various stakeholders is being viewed as the first bold step by the state to clamp down on the movement of health workers to other countries.

It is being branded as a measure aimed at protecting health workers from unfair labour practices in other countries.

In fact, the main objective of the migration policy is to curb the “destabilization or weakening of our health systems in various ways including antecedent brain drain, long-term economic loss on education investments that end up not serving the country’s needs,” which implies that there needs to be a cap on the number of health workers that can migrate.

The state however acknowledges that the massive emigration is as a result of unemployment but that is not the only motivating factor among those contemplating a move abroad.

Poor remuneration and deplorable working conditions in Kenyan health facilities have been mentioned by most nurses as the main factors for wanting to leave Kenya.

Some health workers simply feel frustrated by Kenya and are therefore seeking nations where health systems actually work. In light of the aforementioned factors, health workers deserve better and need to be allowed to migrate to countries of their choice.

Regulating migration amounts to curtailing the freedom of health workers to explore the world and advance their careers. We should borrow a leaf from the so-called developed countries in handling brain drain.

For instance, the UK is staring at a health workforce crisis because nurses and doctors are abandoning the health system due to low pay, and as a result, the conversation is centered on improving the welfare of workers so that they can be retained as opposed to enforcing punitive measures.

Kenya requires policies that will harmonize pay across the counties and ensure that health workers receive a salary that is commensurate with the value of their work; that’s the only way the Kenyan health system can retain nurses and doctors.

The creation of a properly constituted and mandated Health Service Commission may solve the menace in the short term.

– (By: Afya Times | 0745134832)



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