RETURNEES FACE STIGMA, LACK JOBS State to hire ‘Ebola’ nurses in slum clin­ics

‘You al­ways know your gen­uine friends when you go through tough times. Kenya stood with us dur­ing the Ebola out­break’

The Star (Kenya) - - News - JOHN MUCHANGI @jo­munji

The nurses who vol­un­teered to fight Ebola in West Africa last year will be given first pri­or­ity dur­ing re­cruit­ment of health work­ers for clin­ics in slums.

Some of the 170 health work­ers had re­signed from their jobs to travel to Sierra Leone and Liberia in Jan­uary.

The vol­un­teers — in­clud­ing nurses, doc­tors and lab­o­ra­tory tech­ni­cians — were be­tween Sh270,000 and Sh450,000 montly, dur­ing their six month stay in West Africa.

Al­though they were praised as heros and Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta hosted at State House when they re­turned in June last year, many vol­un­teers have faced stigma and re­mained job­less.

The Health min­istry has said it will hire qual­i­fied nurses to work in por­ta­ble clin­ics in slums.

“We are proud of you for rep­re­sent­ing our na­tion dur­ing the Ebola out­break in Liberia and Sierra Leone. Should op­por­tu­ni­ties arise, we will ac­cord you pref­er­ence,” Health CS Cleopa Mailu said yes­ter­day.

The govern­ment will re­cruit 400 health work­ers for slum up­grad­ing be­gin­ning this month.

About 70 nurses are unem­ployed. All the 170 vol­un­teers were feted with pres­i­den­tial com­men­da­tions dur­ing Mashu­jaa Day cel­e­bra­tions. Hired nurses will staff 100 clin­ics. Health PS Ni­cholas Muraguri told Par­lia­ment the first 20 clin­ics will be opened in Nairobi slums this month.

“The oth­ers will be taken to var­i­ous parts of the coun­try to im­prove health­care. You can help us iden­tify sites in your con­stituen­cies,” he said.

Liberian Pres­i­dent Ellen John­son Sir­leaf thanked Kenya for sup­port­ing the coun­try to fight Ebola.

“You al­ways know your gen­uine friends in tough times. Kenya stood with us when we were con­fronted by Ebola. We will al­ways re­main in­debted to you,” she said.

More than 4,000 Liberi­ans died of Ebola be­tween 2013 and June this year, ac­cord­ing to WHO. About 3,900 Sierra Leoneans died.

/PSCU

Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta (third left) with med­i­cal vol­un­teers to the African Union Sup­port to Ebola Out­break in West Africa at State House, Nairobi, on Jan­uary 9, 2015

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