Kenyans are looking at a bleak future as the Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists Dentists Union (KMPDU) calls on its members to down their tools if they will not be paid within a week.
This comes after the national treasury failed to disburse payments to over 40 counties, with some healthcare workers experiencing up to two-month salary delays.
Dr Davji Atellah, KMPDU secretary general, said it is an injustice to expect healthcare workers to be in the hospitals while they have not been paid.
"The people who suffer are the healthcare workers in the counties who have to work without salaries and in hospitals without proper equipment and reagents that are needed. It's been ten years since devolution, yet no proper frameworks have been established to ensure health services function efficiently and adequately," said Atellah.
The SG decried the low employment rates among healthcare workers, saying that only 10 per cent of all the healthcare workers who have graduated since 2010 have been employed in the public healthcare system.
"Salary delays and failure to remit statutory deductions means the workers in the counties are facing a crisis with banks if they have loans, are unable to access services that require statutory deductions and are struggling with basic needs such as rent," he said.
While expressing regret for the move to devolve health services, Atellah said although healthcare is the backbone of the economy, it is unfortunate that healthcare providers are not priopritised by the devolved units.
"There has been no recruitment of healthcare workers in the country, which means that those working in the county hospitals are overworked and cannot go on leave and have promotions," he said.
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Atellah further said that although Kenya is a signatory of the Abuja declaration that states healthcare should constitute 15 per cent of a country's budget allocation; it is only at 4.4 per cent.
This means that the state has neglected human resource, failed to equip facilities with modern infrastructure and drugs, which lends a blow to service delivery.
He blamed the government for creating an artificial excess of healthcare workers, saying it's a deliberate effort to push or sell them to the private sector, where they can be exploited for little pay.
"They've been saying we have a lot of doctors and nurses, but it is a blatant illusion. With the current ratio of 1 doctor per 17,000 patients, it would still take 50 years to reach the recommended WHO ratio of 1:1000,” he said.
He called on the public to advocate for efficient service delivery, saying that the government cannot be broke and that the idea should never be tolerated.
"The government has not stopped collecting taxes, the efficiency of the collection has actually increased by 8 per cent, meaning they collect more money now,” he said.
He said government's priority is aligned with the IMF and the world bank because they want to increase their ability to lend more money internationally.
"The government should look at healthcare not as a recurrent expenditure but as an investment. The cost of healthcare is too expensive, but it cannot be free, yet it is a right of every Kenyan. It is either the government pays for it or the public," he said.