Thursday, June 9, 2011

Coast hit by lack of trained nurses

By GALGALO BOCHA gbocha@ke.nationmedia.com

Government efforts to tackle acute shortage of nurses in Coast Province under the Economic Stimulus Programme failed due to lack of qualified locals.

According to the provincial director of public health and sanitation Dr Anisa Omar, only 236 nurses out of 420, were recruited in the ambitious programme financed in the 2010/11 budget.

The plan was finally suspended in the new budget presented in parliament on Wednesday by Finance minister Uhuru Kenyatta.

Dr Omar said lack of qualified nurses and laboratory personnel in the region had dealt a blow to the ministry’ bid to address the problem.

“We have staff shortage across the region but nobody wants to come forward for these opportunities. We re-advertised several times but we still need 184 vacancies,” she said.

Two weeks ago, the region’s director of medical services, Dr Maurice Siminyu, said the province has a shortage of 1,883 medical staff.

Dr Omar said Tana River and Lamu counties are mostly affected and efforts to recruit outside the two areas were unsuccessful.

“We recruited six nurses in Tana River, Lamu East, Lamu West, Tana Delta Kinango, Kwale and Msambweni. We are appealing to others to bring forward their applications,” she said.

Dr Omar said only Mvita and Malindi had managed to hire the 20 nurses slotted for each of the 210 constituencies under the economic stimulus programme.

In Garsen constituency, Tana Delta District Commissioner, Mr Elias Kithaura, said the situation had affected staffing of the newly built Semikaro health centre that was elevated from dispensary at a cost of Sh6 million.

Densely populated

He said following the elevation, more nurses were needed to handle patients from three densely populated locations of Chara, Wachu Oda and Kone-Mansa locations.

“We require 4 doctors, 6 clinical officers and 30 nurses to improve provision of health services to our people,” Mr Kithaura said on phone from the district headquarters at Minjila trading centre.

The nurses were to be hired on three-year contracts with promise to absorb them into mainstream civil service.

In the last financial year, the finance ministry also allocated Sh20 million for construction of modern health centres and already several constituencies have completed the project.