Kenya's Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe Monday flagged off 19 Kenyan nurses who have been recruited to work in the United Kingdom.
This follows the bilateral agreement between Kenya and Britain signed by President Uhuru Kenyatta and UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July last year.
Mr Kagwe said that a rigorous process was undertaken to get the final list from 3,329 nurses who applied last year. Of the 19 that qualified, 13 will be attached to the Oxford University Hospital and will leave the country on June 28.
The remaining six whose place of work has not been identified yet, will be travelling to the UK in two weeks time. In the pipeline also, are about 80 qualified nurses that will be part of the second cohort.
Mr Kagwe urged other nurses to also look out for such opportunities and apply.
“Kenyan health workers should be broad minded. The fact that you trained in Kenya should not limit you to Kenya. Think broadly and explore opportunities outside the country. You are not rehearsing a life. In this one shot that you have, broaden your thinking and work in other places,” he said.
He reiterated the need for Kenya to be a health tourism hub saying that the recruitment of the nurses to the UK shows the quality of training churned from our local institutions.
Share their expertise
“The fact that Kenya's ambition is to become a health tourism destination, we are investing in that sector. This can only happen if the recipients of the opportunities are young people who will share their expertise from abroad and mentor those remaining in the country,” said the CS.
The ministry has not disclosed how much the nurses will earn. The Health ministry has since set up a task force that will help in the recruitment of subsequent cohorts of nurses to the UK.
The government is also in the process of appointing a health attaché that will be stationed at the Kenyan embassy in London, by September.
Speaking at the event, British High Commissioner Jane Marriot congratulated the nurses saying they received the offer because of their competence and high quality training.
“We would have loved to see a higher number of nurses being part of this flag off, but it made sense to start small, and with one employer (Oxford University Hospital Trust) to ensure right systems and guidelines are in place before scaling it up to more employers,” she said.
“For the UK, this is not just about filling gaps in the National Health Service (NHS) or providing employment opportunities for qualified unemployed Kenyan healthcare workers. It is about increasing the numbers and quality of healthcare workers in Kenya which will in turn facilitate the realisation of UHC,” she added.
Mr Kagwe said that Kenya is also in talks with other countries like Italy and Kuwait who wish to recruit our nurses. The CS insisted that the deployment is meant to ensure that over 11,000 nurses who graduate every year do not lack employment.
“As a government, we wouldn’t wish to see our many trained nurses jobless when they are critically needed abroad. We have currently received a number of requests from different countries for Kenyan nurses. This calls for a mechanism to manage the process as we also check and control shortage of specialised nurses and midwives in the country,” he said.
The CS lauded a Kenyan nurse in the UK, Mercy Wasike, who was appointed as deputy chief nurse at a hospital under the NHS Foundation Trust.
“Like Mercy, carry our flag as high as you undertake your duties at your assigned workstations,” he told the nurses.