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Why medics are an unhappy lot with BBI

Health & Science - By Beldeen Waliaula | October 26th 2020 at 12:00:00 GMT +0300
Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists' Union (KMPDU) officials and Kenya National Union of Nurses General Secretary Seth Panyako (3rd right) addressing nurses outside KNH. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Health workers have rejected a proposal by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) on the creation of a national health commission.

The nurses' and doctors' unions have said the proposal does not help matters.

The BBI report proposes to amend the Health Act to establish the Health Service Commission.

“This is not the commission we have been looking for. We have been shortchanged as workers of this country. We are looking for a Health Service Commission anchored in the Constitution of Kenya... It should be a constitutional body and not a statutory body or an oversight authority,” said Seth Panyako, Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) Secretary-General.

Commission’s roles

Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) Secretary General Chibanzi Mwachonda said the outfit must be a constitutional commission to undertake the management of health workers effectively.

“A constitutional commission is what will help achieve universal health coverage. We need a constitutional amendment, not an amendment to an Act.” said Dr Mwachonda.

According to the BBI report, the commission shall make recommendations to the national government on national policies for management of health workers. The Bill shall monitor implementation of the national policies for management of health care workers by county government.

It shall also recommend appropriate action, set and review norms and standards on health matters. It will also be responsible for training of healthcare workers, recruitment of healthcare workers and transfer of health care workers.

Knun said the roles of the health commission stipulated in the report are duties that are supposed to be carried out by the Ministry of Health and county governments.

“The body will not solve issues that affect healthcare delivery as we will continue to have problems with payment of salaries, not allocating enough money to health to deal with human resource shortage,” he said.

Though the BBI report says the commission can be involved in recruitment of health workers, Panyako said the body would only create policies and standards on recruitment of health workers -a function that is under the Public Service Commission.

He said this goes against their recommendation that the commission should have the ability to recruit the health workers.

“There is no need to continue taxing Kenyans with useless bodies that duplicate roles of other institutions,” said Panyako.

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