A crisis is looming in the Siaya health sector as an NGO that has been partnering with the county is planning to terminate the contracts of at least 300 people working at various facilities.
Following the announcement by the Centre for Health Solutions (CHS), the county assembly health committee held a crisis meeting for three hours, with County Health Chief Officer Dr Samuel Omondi, to discuss the matter.
Sources told the Nation that the committee chaired by Abigael Awino (Central Gem Ward) sought to know the county's plan to cushion the sector and prevent a crisis.
Health officials remained tight-lipped on the matter with, with Health minister Dorothy Owino promising to give official communication on Wednesday.
Dr Omondi also declined to comment on the issue but later sent a message saying Ms Owino would hold a press conference.
The CHS's decision to lay off it's personnel at the 119 hospitals across the county has led to fears that services will grind to a halt as Siaya is already grappling with a shortage of health workers.
In a letter dated August 15, the non-governmental organisation said those affected were asked to clear and hand over to their immediate supervisors by end of September.
The letter seen by the Nation stated, "This is to notify you that your contract with the Department of Health under the Health ministry's SHINDA project 2018/2019 comes to an end on September 29."
SHINDA is a five-year HIV prevention, care and treatment programme funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
According to Kenya HIV County Profiles 2016, Siaya has the fourth highest number of people living with the virus, with a prevalence rate of 4.2 per cent, higher than the national average.
Records kept by the CHS show 66,894 people are on HIV treatment and under the SHINDA programme.
The Nation independently established that the programme hired a total of 842 health workers and volunteers for facilities across Siaya.
Local leaders raised concerns about the loss of jobs and the impact on services at health facilities.
Central Sakwa MCA Charlton Andiego said that since October 2016, the CHS, through the project, has worked with the county’s health department to provide high-quality HIV services.
As such, Mr Andiego said, most facilities in his ward will likely close down.
"Nango health center, for example , which serves as the referral hospital for the entire Central Sakwa, has only 1 doctor. At Ndeda and Oyamo, almost all the staff are seconded by the CHS."
Yimbo East MCA Francis Otiato said the fate of Usigu health center and other facilities in the ward is unclear. He noted that Usigu has just one clinical officer.
"We have five health facilities in East Yimbo Ward which we fear are going to be closed due to lack of staff."
In the 2019/20 financial year, the county's health department recurrent expenditure stood at Sh1.8 billion against a total allocation of Sh2.2 billion.