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Healthcare Crisis During COVID-19 Pandemic

Nairobi, 18th December 2020                               

Healthcare Crisis During COVID-19 Pandemic

Amid the rising COVID-19 cases, infections and fatalities the  Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) takes cognizance of the ravages of the pandemic that continues to affect nearly all segments of our society. COVID-19 pandemic has significantly changed the citizens’ way of life and further worsened the experiences of the most vulnerable and the high risk population within our communities.  

Notable among the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, is the labour action currently taken by a section of our frontline health workers. In exercising their labour rights, they recently staged an industrial action leaving those in need of medical attention, especially the critically ill and COVID-19 patients on their own. The strike by the health workers has indeed increased the threat to citizens’ enjoyment of their right to life, healthcare and even human dignity. The strike by the medical practitioners and the delay by the respective duty bearers in fast-tracking the solutions to end the strike has exposed Kenyans to mass violation of their right to health. This in itself compromises the enjoyment of basic human rights by Kenyans as enshrined in the Constitution.  

The KNCHR further takes cognizance of the fact that our medical practitioners, in their bid to safeguard Kenyans from the Corona Virus, have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 risks. This has sadly resulted in fatalities of frontline Doctors and healthcare workers in their line of duty. In remembrance of our fallen Doctors and frontline public healthcare staff, those who have suffered harm and psychological impact in their line of duty, KNCHR calls on the government to take a deliberate initiative and recognize them as the heroes and personalities of the year 2020 in solidarity to their sacrifice of standing up for Kenyans’ human rights to health.

It is reported that close to 70 health workers of various cadres have lost their lives due to Corona virus. It is unfortunate that these deaths are linked to lack of personal protective gear, operational equipment and lack of health insurance. Our health workers have also raised legitimate concerns of      under-staffing as well as long-standing issues pertaining to their fair and commensurate remuneration and allowances. It is thus disturbing to note that there is yet no meaningful and sustainable initiative from the concerned duty bearers and actors at the national and county governments in resolving the crisis at hand noting that our country is still in the pandemic waves of the COVID-19.

Affordable and easily accessible healthcare of the highest standards, as envisioned in our Constitution, is critical for the attainment of our common aspirations to development and prosperity as a nation including; enjoying other fundamental rights and freedoms to the fullest extent. In view of the foregoing, KNCHR calls upon the State duty bearers and health sector actors to act with utmost urgency and ease any existing hardline positions and stands in resolving the health crisis that we are currently witnessing.

The KNCHR trust that this appeal and intervention will be honoured in recognizing, protecting and promoting the rights of our health workers for the sake of protecting their lives and those of the many patients all over the country whose lives are dependent on theirs. The KNCHR communicates its willingness and availability to work closely with the medical practitioners’ representatives, the Ministry of Health and the Council of Governors; to provide mediation support to resolve the impasse in accordance with its mandate as the lead agency for the promotion and protection of human rights in Kenya.

In conclusion, a critical role of human rights is documentation of various human rights violations, system and structural gaps in order to support advisories to the Government on key reforms and solutions. The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights invites members of the public and our stakeholders to contact the Commission via:  Mobile: 0110939013; WhatsApp number (texts only): 0798 849871, Email: complaint@knchr.org; haki@knchr.org; Twitter:@hakiKNCHR; Facebook- facebook.com/knchr.org; KNCHR SMS: 22359.

 

Dr. Bernard Mogesa, PhD, CPM

Chief Executive Officer/ Secretary to The Commission

 

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