Our reliable Kenyan team leader, Sara, met us today at the pharmacy in Kisumu where we picked up our medication-all 46 cartons of it. It was an exciting reunion and Sara proudly introduced us to a nurse colleague calling us her “friends from Canada”. As we often do, we compared nursing stories. Kenyan nurses were on strike in late 2012 and early 2013 for improvement in wages and the nurse patient ratio, which is currently one nurse for 64 patients!
Sara spoke about the frustration of nurse workloads and told a story of how one of the nurses in Labour and Delivery had seven patients all delivering their babies at the same time. Four were in beds and three were on the floor. She struggled to provide care for the patients, praying that there would not be any unanticipated health issues for either group. As Sara stated, there are times that a choice has to be made between mother and baby.
Sara also stated they were in need of birthing packs as they often run out of supplies for a safe delivery. This is certainly one of the things that we will consider bringing on our next mission. Each year as we travel to Kenya, we become more aware of the many unmet needs in Kenya.
By the way, the strike was eventually settled but the sole outcome was the nurses now are able to form a union giving them a voice and some employment protection. It is unknown how effective a union will be. And as to a wage increase, there was none, only now union dues are collected once a month.