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Health workers strikes cripple services in Kenya say MSF charity

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Two consecutive strikes by health professionals in Kenya in 2017 have caused crippling consequences to the country’s health system as a few facilities struggle with influx of patients, a global charity said on Wednesday.

The Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said the current nurses strike, which follows a 100-day doctors’ strike earlier this year have left many public health facilities closed and thousands of people without access to essential medical services.

"It is crucial that all parties work on a solution to restore access to emergency and life-saving care, and referral services," Head of Mission for MSF in Kenya Abubakr Bashir Bakri said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The charity said many Kenyans are unable to afford care in some of the private facilities, which remain open during the current nurses’ strike.

It said other people have had to travel long distances to reach free services provided by non-profit organizations, sometimes ending up with grave outcomes due to delays.

In some ministry of health facilities that MSF supports, patients are simply not coming, assuming they are closed.

"During the doctors’ strike for example, MSF covered the high costs of intensive care in private facilities for severely ill patients.

"This is unacceptable; life-saving services need to be reinstated as a matter of urgency," Bakri said.

The nurses have boycotted work in some parts of the country since June, citing a breach of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) they signed with the government.

The response to the cholera outbreak in the country has also suffered as there are no nurses working in nearly all public facilities.

MSF said it had to open a cholera treatment unit in Nairobi’s Mathare area, to treat patients who would otherwise not have received care.

"While essential medical services remain suspended, others may not be so lucky.

"With thousands cut off, we are urging that lifesaving activities are maintained to alleviate the suffering of those most in need," said Bakri.


China helps boost technical, vocational training in Kenya

MOMBASA (Xinhua) -- China has handed over a batch of modern equipment meant to help empower Kenya’s technical and vocational training institutions.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Deputy President William Ruto and officials from the Ministry of Education attended a ceremony held at Kenya Coast National Polytechnic in the coastal city of Mombasa to mark the handover.

The first batch of equipment came in the phase II of a Kenya-China project for boosting technical and vocational education to the east African country.

Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Kenya Yao Ming and Su Tianshu, chief representative of Kenya office of Avic International Holding Corporation, which supplied the equipment, were also among the attendees.

The equipment, loaded by 10 trucks, includes conventional mechanical workshops, automotive maintenance workshops and welding workshops, according to Su, who added that they would be dispatched to 20 technical and vocational training institutions across the country after the ceremony.

The Avic International Holding Corporation signed with Kenya’s Ministry of Education in 2010 an agreement worth about 30 million U.S. dollars on the phase I of Kenya-China project on the establishment of technical and vocational laboratories in Kenya.

The Chinese company helped equip 10 vocational and technical institutions in the country and provide solutions on areas including curriculum content and instructor training for them.

About 15,000 Kenyans were trained in the implementation of the phase I of the project.

In 2013, the company inked the agreement on the phase II of the project, which is valued about 158 million U.S. dollars and will equip a total of 134 institutions of technical and vocational education and training across the county.

According to the company, about 1,500 teachers and some 150,000 students will be trained in phase II, which is scheduled to end in 2020.

Su said that the rest of the equipment in the phase II of the project will be handed over to the Kenyan institutions by the end of 2018.

Geoffrey Mwaniki, a first year student who majors in electrical engineering, spent some time studying a set of mechatronic workshops, which were shown during the ceremony.

Mwaniki told Xinhua that he was excited to know he would be able to use some of the modern equipment in the next semester.

"China is fascinating," he said.



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