Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto has now challenged all governors to meet and talk to the striking health workers in their respective counties and convince them to resume work, saying health management is fully devolved.
Speaking Wednesday afternoon at Kiptenden Primary School in Bureti constituency, Kericho County, Mr Ruto said it is the duty of each governor to ensure that health systems in their county are functional and urged them to hold fresh salary negotiations with the doctors and nurses who are on strike so that they can return to work.
Bomet is the only county where medical services have not been affected by the ongoing nationwide strike, which has crippled medical services and caused much suffering to poor Kenyans who are unable to afford treatment at private hospitals.
“In Bomet, I just called my doctors and we had a talk and sorted out all issues and they are now at work. What are the other governors waiting for?
“No one else will solve the crisis in their counties because this is a devolved function and I agree with the health workers that they deserve better pay,” he said.
BLAMED FORMER HEALTH MINISTER
Nonetheless, he accused former Health Minister James Macharia of being behind the current situation, wondering why Mr Macharia agreed on a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) with the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) in 2013 despite the function having been devolved and was therefore being managed by county governments.
“All this problem we are seeing was caused by Mr Macharia who signed a document and stashed it away without allowing governors to see it.
“Most governors realised that such a document existed just two or three days before the strike started,” added Governor Ruto.
He demanded to know why the national government is retaining billions of shillings to run the national Health ministry instead of devolving the funds to be used to employ more doctors and nurses and enhance their pay.
PLEA TO END STRIKE
In a separate interview, Kericho Governor Paul Chepkwony said talks are ongoing between his administration and leaders of KMPDU and the Kenya National Union of Nurses (Knun) which called the strike which entered its fifth day Thursday.
He pleaded with the medical workers to return to work as the government seeks ways of implementing the 2013 CBA even as he passed the buck to Health Minister Cleopa Mailu whom he asked him to engage the union leaders to end the industrial action.
Council of County Ministers Chairman Anthony Njaramba also weighed in on the matter, asking Kenyans not to blame county Health executives for the mess in the health sector and instead pointed an accusing finger at the national government.
Mr Njaramba said the only way to solve the problem is by the national government accepting to increase allocation to the county governments, adding that most counties are already allocating huge amounts of money to the health sector in their budgets.