Embu MCAs want hospital turned into parastatal to generate own cash
By Joseph Muchiri and Boniface Gikandi
| November 17th 2016
Even before the advent of devolution, the health sector had been ailing, quite literally. Frequent strikes by medical staff to press for improved salaries and promotions were the order of day.
And things did not get better when public hospitals were put under county governments. From Kakamega to Embu, Busia to Nakuru and Murang'a to Kiambu, the sector remains on its deathbed, crippled by doctors' strikes, and poor facilities, with patients as the chief sufferers.
It is this state of affairs that has seen MCAs in Embu start a push to have Embu Level Five Hospital transformed into a parastatal so it can generate its own income, with limited government support.
The MCAs who spoke on Tuesday, just hours after doctors went on strike over pay, said making the hospital a semi-autonomous entity would help address the many challenges facing the health sector.
"The hospital should be turned into a parastatal to reduce its dependence on the county government," said Nginda MCA Anthony Mugera.
"It should be made a semi-autonomous organisation to generate its own revenue to pay doctors and nurses. It is consuming funds meant for dispensaries and health centres. The county government should only supplement its budget to facilitate purchase of specialised equipment," he added.
Several MCAs backed the proposal noting patients, especially those who cannot afford private hospital fees, are suffering due to doctors' strikes.
Runyenjes Central MCA Steve Simba noted that the referral hospital had become a major burden to the county government's budget.
Health Committee Chairman Agatha Muthoni acknowledged receiving a notice by Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union that doctors would go on strike. The union also wants more doctors hired to bridge the deficit, apart from salary increments and promotions.
This came as Murang'a MCAs adjourned proceedings to discuss the ongoing doctors' strike that entered its third say yesterday.
The doctors are protesting against delayed remittance of statutory deductions by the county government, among other concerns.
Gitugi MCA Duncan Njuguna, who moved the motion for the House to discuss the pathetic state of affairs at the county referral hospital, accused the government of neglecting doctors.
"It is said the government has failed to address the plight of workers despite the fact it receives in excess of a billion," said Njuguna.
His Gaichanjiru counterpart Benard Wanyoike said the county treasury staff should be investigated and made to explain why they had failed to remit the deductions. "They pay contractors promptly but ignore doctors. It is sad," he said.
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