Nurses have threatened to paralyse operations in 35 counties starting Monday evening over delays in payment of their July salaries.
Kenya National Union of Nurses' Secretary-General Seth Panyako said on Thursday that only 12 of the 47 counties had paid their health workers.
“We have declared total war with these counties if they do not pay nurses by close of business on Monday 5pm. None of the health workers will go to work,” said Mr Panyako.
Mr Panyako blamed the Council of Governors for the impending crisis, accusing it of misleading governors on payment of salaries and remittance of union fees.
He accused CoG chairman Wycliffe Oparanya (Kakamega) of poor leadership and misguiding governors.
Mr Panyako said, "Oparanya has paid nurses in his county yet he is urging the other counties not to pay. Kakamega County remitted the salaries on Thursday morning yet Governor Oparanya has issued a letter of ‘press for hard times'. What kind of leadership is this?"
The official further accused the chair of “continuously hoodwinking and misleading governors because the healthcare system in his county will be running smoothly as the rest run in havoc”.
Kakamega, Mombasa, Wajir, Garissa, Nairobi, Kajiado, Kiambu, Tana River, Turkana, Kwale, Bungoma, Kisii are the counties that have paid their health workers.
Mr Panyako also accused governors of duping Kenyans by seeking treatment outside the country, leaving the healthcare systems in counties in mayhem.
“The strike will cause the grounding of every service, including ambulances, but these governors will seek private healthcare out of the country or in expensive hospitals, leaving ‘Wanjiku’ languishing because the whole system will have been brought to a halt,” he said.
Speaking in Kisumu during the requiem mass of branch official Ferdinand Ongeri, who was murdered in July, Mr Panyako also dismissed claims that counties do not have money for salaries.
“We all know that when there is a stalemate in the budget, 50 per cent of it is released to counties for recurrent expenditure and emergencies. So 50 per cent of the budget is available,” he said.
However, President Uhuru Kenyatta has maintained that the National Treasury has no extra money for counties.
Responding to demands by governors and senators for more money, the President told counties to work with what they were allocated earlier.
The union further noted that nurses are frustrated while on duty and that they lack security.
He condemned the brutal killing of Mr Ongeri whose mutilated body was found in Kimondi Forest, Nandi County, on July 26, days after he went missing.
“This is the second nurse to be killed in two years after the nurse in Machakos was killed. I urge counties and the national government to enhance the security of nurses and ensure perpetrators of this heinous act are brought to book,” Mr Panyako said.