Several counties have done quite well in developing health facilities. There are several state-of-the-art hospitals that could greatly ease the pressure on Kenyatta National Hospital and Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital.
The counties have shown a laudable commitment to taking specialised medical services closer to the people across the country. But there is a flip side to this that is not flattering, at all.
Counties have demonstrated unimaginable ineptitude and incompetence in managing medical personnel, especially doctors and nurses.
This is evident in the numerous strikes and walkouts that have characterised the relationship between the health workers and the county executives. The fights between the doctors’ union and the counties over pay, allowances, working environment, promotions and further training are legion.
Three years ago, there was a doctors’ strike that lasted 100 days and left dozens of patients dead. Another nationwide strike by nurses followed, also with devastating effects.
And now, the country could be in for another big test following a warning by the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union over failure by five counties to pay their members their May salaries.
This could not have come at a worse time as the country needs all its health workers to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. The medical personnel are at the forefront in the fight against the deadly disease and should not be distracted.
Although the devolution of health services makes sense, counties lack the capacity to effectively manage this highly specialised group of workers.
The national government should, through the Ministry of Health, reclaim the medical personnel, especially doctors, from the management of the counties.