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Nairobi – The Nairobi County government has been accused of failing to make payment to community health workers in the county despite allocating 100 million shillings for facilitating the scheme.
Last year, it was estimated that at least 6,250 community health volunteers in Nairobi would receive from July of the same year 3,000 shillings of monthly allowance as well as 500 shillings of health insurance.
Despite the passage and launch of the Nairobi County Community Services Health Act, health workers are still providing their services without an incentive allowance.
Nairobi gubernatorial aspirant Agnes Kagure has called for urgent action for the welfare of community health workers in Nairobi County, insisting that it affects their service delivery to Kenyans.
Kagure lamented that community health workers still do not receive any stipend for their services.
“These are people we would really like to appreciate because of what they have done to our communities. They have volunteered without any payment. We must deliver the people of Nairobi from the city of wailing and ensure proper delivery to the people of Nairobi,” Kagure noted.
Community health volunteers are committed to tracing and referring health-related cases to the nearest health facilities, conducting home visits to determine health status, and promoting appropriate home care for the sick with the support of health partners, among others.
“We have to offer a solution to this special group who are untitled leaders. In Pumwani they don’t have enough community health workers. This special group is getting a basic salary because of what they have been doing “, said Kagure.
Ken Adagala, chairman of community health workers in Nairobi, lamented that despite an existing law providing a legal basis for their payment, they still languish in poverty.
“The law must be implemented so that our people not only receive money, but also access to safety kits and other vital information that will ensure effective service delivery. The budget that has us been allocated in 2021/2022 is not in our pockets, let’s not be handed over to the treasury,” Adagala said.
Aisha Hamisi, a health worker in Kamkunji, pointed out that it has been impossible to offer their services as efforts to roll out the grant have been muzzled due to lack of political goodwill.
“We have a lot of grievances for working odd hours without pay and sometimes using our money to help patients get to hospitals. We are wealthy in information but without money in our pockets it’s almost impossible,” she said.
Peter Karanja, Nairobi community health worker coordinator stationed in Makadara, noted that the journey to claim payment has taken more than three decades, but there is no hope in sight.
He said that despite a clear legal framework, the law has not been operationalized, threatening to shut down the tools if the delay persists.
“We were promised last year to receive allowances, but without good political will, it was impossible,” Karanja noted.
Nairobi County has a total of 6,250 community health workers working in over 1,000 health centers spread across the 85 wards of the capital.
In June 2019, the town hall announced that health volunteers were to receive at least 500 shillings per month for NHIF coverage, while the monthly stipend was to be increased from the current 1,300 shillings to 3,000 shillings.