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State turns the heat on governors over crisis facing health sector

Health & Science
 Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua

The Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua has directed county governments to address the demands of health workers who are striking.

Mr Kinyua has written to the governors, saying the national government is concerned about the frequent disruption of health services by doctors and nurses over unresolved grievances.

In the letter dated November 29, and addressed to the Council of Governors, he directed  governors to urgently address health workers medical Insurance cover, mortgage and car loans scheme, respect for return to work formula and disparities in human resource management.

The Head of Public Service said civil servants in county governments do not benefit from the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF) because some counties had not set aside funds to cater for the medical insurance enjoyed by national government staff.

“On December 17, 2014, the Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) released mortgage and car loan scheme for civil servants. County governments were required to set a side funds for the implementation of the two schemes but these have not been affected,” read the letter in part.

The letter is copied to Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, the Public Service Commission (PSC) chairperson Margaret Kobia and SRC Chairperson Sarah Serem.

The Head of Public Service also blamed disparities in human resource management in the county governments, for strikes.

“County Governments do not have a common approach to management of health workers due to variations in domestication of guidelines for human resource management,” he said.

“Consequently, there are disparities in the implementation of recommendations by expert government agencies which include the SRC, the PSC, the National Treasury and the Directorate of Human Resource Management.”

But the Head of Public Service’s letter to the county governments has angered nurses who have accused him of passing the buck over the poor management of health services, to the counties.

Seth Panyako, the Kenya Union of Nurses chairman said the national government had no moral authority to blame the county governments over the poor state of health services.

“The letter by Kinyua does not make sense and will not help resolve our problems. The National government is to blame for the mess it is now asking the counties to address. They mismanaged the transition in the sector and cannot now pretend to be giving functions to counties which don’t belong to them,” Panyako said.

He said Kinyua’s letter to the council of governors was coming "too little too late.”

The National Doctor’s Union Secretary, Homa Bay branch Ben Otieno, said Kinyua’s  directive may not work because of what he termed poor attitude towards medical services by some of the governors.

Efforts to get a comment from the Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya or the Chairman of  the Council’s  Health Committee, Jack Ranguma were futile as their cell phones could not be reached.

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