The Kenya Healthcare unions wishes to express concern about the looming crisis in the counties, owing to the cash crunch occasioned by the national government’s delay to disburse funds to the devolved units. According to a letter by the Council of Governors (CoG) Chairperson Anne Waiguru, the National Treasury owes all 47 counties a whooping Ksh.92 billion for the 2022/2023 financial year. This worrying delay has led to the crippling of operations in the counties, thereby affecting even the pending payment of salaries to workers who provide crucial services such as medical personnel.
It has been over ten years since healthcare was devolved in Kenya, but there is still no streamlined framework to ensure healthcare services function efficiently. We have witnessed numerous blame games between national and county governments concerning finances, drug and equipment acquisition, employment of healthcare workers which have led to the detriment of the healthcare service delivery in the country. And, while all this goes on, Kenyans are thereby indirectly denied their right to quality healthcare services as enshrined in the Constitution.
As it stands today, close to 40 counties have neither paid healthcare workers their salaries nor remitted statutory deductions. The few that have managed to pay salaries have made arrangements with banks for overdrafts and loans, which in the long run attract hefty interests, thereby burdening the taxpayers; these are funds that would otherwise have been used to purchase essential drugs.
From where we stand, as the body mandated with streamlining the welfare of healthcare workers in the country, it is clearer to us now than ever that devolving the health workforce was ill advised. We find it preposterous that government employees, especially those that provide essential services in the health sector, are continuously inundated with notifications of delayed salary payments and statutory deductions. Healthcare is described by the government as an essential service, yet the essential service providers cannot access their pay like other public servants managed by the National Government such as the independent commissions e.g. police and Teachers Service Commission. The healthcare workers cannot afford the services they offer to the public due delayed insurance remittances. This only serves to affect a healthcare worker’s standard of living, thereby injuring their productivity and motivation, which subsequently translates to serious negative impact to public health care. The ripple effect of this discrimination has been mass resignation and emigration of healthcare workers witnessed over the recent past.
To avoid this conundrum and bring to an end the incessant blame game, the union demands the following:
The National government releases funds to counties forthwith.
The establishment of a constitutional Health Service Commission that will handle all matters related to the healthcare workforce nationally.
That the national government pays healthcare workers directly from the exchequer.
A budget should be set aside for annual recruitment of additional healthcare workers.
The Ministry of Health constitutes a joint national taskforce on health to provide solutions to the numerous challenges facing health service delivery in Kenya.
Within 7 days, counties that shall have not paid the salaries and statutory deductions should not expect healthcare workers to report on duty.
It is only through this, and various other recommendations made by the union to the national government in the recent past, that we – as a country – will be able to fix healthcare and make it work for all Kenyans.
- Dr. Davji Bhimji Atellah,
- Elias Mutuma Irura
- Peterson Wachira
- Stephen Ruteere
For General General Secretary