NAIROBI, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating the brain drain in Kenya's health sector as workers saddled by challenges the crisis has brought quit in search of greener pastures, officials said Friday.
Stephen Njoroge, secretary of the National Nurses Association of Kenya, said that the profession is the worst hit.
"Many of our members are leaving jobs in Kenya and taking up posts in other countries to avoid the tough working conditions that the pandemic has brought," said Njoroge at the national health conference in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital.
Some of the challenges health workers face in Kenya due to the pandemic are long working hours without allowances and lack of personal protective gears and insurance cover that makes it difficult for them to access quality healthcare when COVID-19 strikes, according to him.
George Gibore, secretary-general of Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, said Kenya has lost at least 50 health workers to COVID-19.
"So far, 8,000 workers have been infected by the disease, 81 percent of whom were asymptomatic. Some 1,500 health workers exhibited symptoms, but could not get treatment in public hospitals which did not have the required facilities like oxygen centers," Gibore said.
Ganatra Anbar, vice-treasurer of Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, said the pandemic has exposed inefficiencies in Kenya's health care system at all levels, which include lack of elaborate disease surveillance system.
Kenya has some 60,000 nurses, 13,000 doctors and more than 20,000 clinical officers, according to the Ministry of Health.
At least 600 nurses leave the country in search of better pay in the United States, Britain, Canada, Botswana and South Africa every year, according to the Nursing Council of Kenya.