Doctors exit plunge county's health sector in crisis

Council of Governors Chairman Wycliff Oparanya addressing press conference on the councils state of address. He has been urged to sack his health CEC. [File, Standard]

A member of the county assembly now wants Governor Wycliffe Oparanya to sack Health Executive Rachel Okumu over alleged incompetence.

Isukha South Ward Rep Farouk Machanje said this on Tuesday after he joined MCAs who were inspecting hospitals in the county.

“Endless supremacy wrangles between the CEC and the Health chief officer have plunged the sector into a huge mess,” Mr Machanje said, adding that the ward reps would impeach Ms Okumu if the governor failed to take action.

A report by the MCAs revealed that the hospitals were staring at a crisis due to mismanagement and the mass exodus of doctors and nurses.

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According to the report, the situation has forced residents to seek treatment in private health centres where treatment is more expensive.

“The county has been left with 15 doctors out of 40 because most of them have already quit and more have tendered their resignation letters,” said Machanje.

Bunyala East MCA Rodgers Nato said of the Sh11 million earmarked for a blood bank at the referral hospital, only Sh4 million had been spent. Mr Nato claimed the blood bank had run dry.

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“That leaves a lot to be desired about the competency of people charged with managing the blood bank.”

The MCAs demanded to be told why the Executive had diverted a conditional grant of Sh467 million released by the World Bank to give the Level Five hospital a face-lift.

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They also questioned a decision by the Executive to withhold millions of shillings contributed through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF), saying it was hurting operations at the facility.

“Many patients use NHIF when they seek treatment and as such, we don’t have a steady flow of cash to run the day-to-day operations of the hospital. We solely depend on the NHIF money to pay our bills, but it never comes through and we have to go and beg the same from the Executive,” said a source at the hospital, who requested anonymity for fear of reprisals.

Butsotso South MCA Walter Andati said the detention of patients over unpaid bills was not helping matters.

Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako said nurses were quitting due to frustration.

“We are aware of the looming health crisis in Kakamega. Doctors and nurses have decided to exit due to poor working conditions. As a union, we are encouraging them to go and look for greener pastures elsewhere,” Mr Panyako told The Standard on the telephone yesterday.

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The union boss warned that the problems bedeviling the public health sector would persist if no efforts were made to seek solutions.

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Governor Wycliffe OparanyaRachel OkumuFarouk MachanjeMCAs