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Health workers demand their two-year pay amid budget crisis

By Brian Kisanji | July 26th 2021
Health workers in Vihiga County in a past demonstration. [Eric Lunga, Standard]

The trouble surrounding the Vihiga County health sector was laid bare during the Senate’s Devolution Committee meeting held following suspension of the implementation of the county’s budget for the 2021/22 financial year.

The county has been battling financial difficulties after the High Court in Kakamega issued a conservatory order stopping the implementation of the budget that had been approved by the County Assembly.

The petition challenging the legality of the budget was filed by former County Secretary Francis Ominde and political activist Joseph Simekha.

The two raised concerns regarding how the county government led by Governor Wilbur Ottichilo intended to use the budget. They also claimed the budget was never approved by the Cabinet. The Senate committee meeting had been convened to hear both sides over the budget stalemate and offer solutions. It was during the meeting on Friday that the long-standing salary dilemma of more than 500 health workers was raised.

The meeting was chaired by Senator Rose Nyamunga and attended by Ottichilo and his deputy Patrick Saisi, County Executive Committee Members, County Assembly’s leadership and several budget stakeholders.

Kenya Union of Clinical Officers, Vihiga chapter official, Walter Andoli, said the county had not honoured a court order instructing it to pay medics’ two-year salaries.

“Our interest in the budget matter is only one; not the procedure but the content that will allow us to be paid our two-year dues,” Andoli told the committee.

The health workers were recruited in 2019. The health department, through the previous County Public Service Board, had advertised for 149 vacancies.

However, it was later discovered that 528 health staff were recruited under unclear circumstances prompting Ottichilo to suspend their pay. 

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