The push to have the health sector revert to the National Government has gained momentum.
Health workers, ranging from doctors, clinical officers, nurses, lab technologists and dieticians yesterday warned of unprecedented consequences if the government does not agree to the formation of a Health Service Commission (HSC).
Yesterday's press conference was attended by representatives from the Kenya National Union of Nurses, Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Kenya National Union of Medical Lab Technologists, Kenya Union of Nutritionists and Dieticians, Kenya National Union of Pharmaceutical Technologists and Kenya Health Professionals Society.
The HSC is among the recommendations under the Building Bridges Initiative and health care workers fear this might be struck out.
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The medics argued public servants under commissions such as the Public Service Commission, the Judicial Service Commission and the Teachers Service Commission do not suffer delayed salaries or promotions.
“Some of the reasons we go on strike are not warranted; like salaries which is in the law that at the end of every month a worker is supposed to be paid,” said Kenya Union of Clinical Officers official Peterson Wachira.
Medics in Kisumu are currently on strike, with strike notices issued in Kisii, Nandi and Mombasa.
Kenya National Union of Nurses Secretary General Seth Panyako said formation of a HSC was the bare minimum in the medics' list of demands.
“The day they will remove HSC from the BBI report will be the day we will close all hospitals in this country,” warned Panyako.
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Kenya Union of Clinical Officers Secretary General George Gibore said the proposal for a HSC was initially in the current constitution, but was removed when the document went to a referendum.
Gibore claimed that the health sector has been mismanaged by counties.
“For example, there was unprocedural firing of health workers in Kirinyaga and Laikipia. Collective Bargaining Agreements have also not been finalised, and where they exist, they have not been implemented despite being signed and deposited in court,” said Gibore.
He said since devolution, counties have not been able to handle shortage of medics and health care workers.
The medics faulted counties for hiring staff on unfavourable terms.
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Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union Secretary General Hamisi Mwachonda said devolution has placed the health sector at the whims of governors.
“If they decide it is not a priority, health care will be mistreated,” he said.