Medics push for establishment of Health Commission as salaries delay

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Davji Atellah, [File, Standard]

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentist Union (KMPDU) wants the government to establish a Constitutional body to handle national healthcare workforce.

In a statement, dated March 16, by the medics’ union, Secretary General Davji Atellah proposes the commission be called ‘Health Service Commission’.

“The Union demands… The establishment of a constitutional Health Service Commission that will handle all matters related to the healthcare workforce nationally,” Atellah’s statement reads in part.

The Union also wants the national government to pay healthcare workers directly from the exchequer and set aside an annual budget for recruitment of additional healthcare workers.

“It is only through this, and various other recommendations made by the union to the national government in the recent past, that we — as a country — will be able to fix healthcare and make it work for all Kenyans,” the Union says.

Days ago, the Council of Governors decried delay in disbursement of funds to counties by the National Treasury. Through its Chairperson Anne Waiguru, CoG says no county has received funds for December 2022 through to February this year.

In a letter to Treasury Cabinet Secretary Njuguna Ndung’u, Governor Waiguru placed the outstanding balance of Equitable Shares to County Governments at Ksh.92.5 billion.

“This unwarranted delay has jeopardized the operations of the counties, rendered the counties unable to pay salaries, suppliers or continue to offer essential services to citizens,” Waiguru says in the letter dated March 9.

The Treasury owes all 47 counties Ksh.29.6 billion for December 2022, Kshs.31.45 billion for January and Kshs.31.45 billion for February, the CoG chair said.

As a result of the delay in disbursement of money from the national to county governments, Nyeri County has written to its staff over the delayed payments.

The County’s Head of Public Service says they have not received funds for December, January and February.

“It is my hope that the National Treasury will effect the disbursement within the next two weeks from the date of this letter. This office regrets the delay and appreciates the patience and understanding displayed by all our staff,”

In Vihiga, the County Government says “The County Government of Vihiga has endeavored to pay staff salaries on time. Unfortunately, due to logistical challenges in exchequer disbursement, the February 2023 salary has delayed; we appreciate your services to the County and regret for any inconveniences caused.’

In 2013, Kenya transitioned into a devolved system of governance comprising two levels: the national government and 47 county governments.

Under devolution, the health service delivery function was transferred to county governments while the national government retained policy and regulatory functions.