KENYA- The British government has stopped the recruitment of jobless nurses from Kenya in a surprise move.

The UK Department of Health announced that it was suspending the hiring process, citing an existing labor shortage of the health workers in the country.

Kenya and Britain on July 29 signed a deal that was expected to benefit unemployed surplus medics, who would serve in the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) before returning to Nairobi.

It was good news for more than 30,000 jobless Kenyan nurses and healthcare workers grappling with unemployment.

But UK now says it has taken the decision after adding Kenya on its list of countries facing a shortage of health workers.

“While Kenya is not on the WHO Health Workforce Support and Safeguards List, it remains a country with significant health workforce challenges,” the UK says.

“Adding Kenya to the amber list in the Code will protect Kenya from unmanaged international recruitment which could exacerbate existing health and social care workforce shortages. It remains a country with significant health workforce challenges,” they said.

The announcement, which deals a blow to nurses who were in the process of applying for posts, comes even as the Health ministry revealed late last month that only 10 of 300 nurses passed English language tests required for the NHS jobs.

While it is not clear how many have so far been recruited under the deal, the UK said those who had already secured employment in Britain would not be affected.

Britain said earlier that 894 Kenyan nurses are working in its public healthcare system. Kenyan healthcare workers have often sought opportunities abroad to escape poor working conditions and low pay locally amid a clamor by unions for better terms.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s health ministry on Friday announced 64 new COVID-19 cases from a sample size of 4,790 tests conducted over the past 24 hours, taking the country’s total caseload to 254,215.

In the same period, one patient succumbed to the disease, taking the total number of virus-related fatalities to 5,316.

For the past two months, the East African country has seen a decline in the number of new daily cases.

This decline prompted the government to ease some restrictions imposed to contain further spread of the virus.

Last month, a nationwide nighttime curfew was lifted, and sports fans were allowed to attend sporting events in limited numbers.

Kenya rolled outs its mass vaccination drive in March 2021, initially targeting persons considered to be at high risk, including healthcare workers, the elderly and persons with underlying health conditions.

So far, a total of 5,893,466 vaccines have been administered across the country. Of these, 3,861,136 are partially vaccinated while those fully vaccinated are 2,032,330.

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