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Address public health woes

Friday October 14 2016

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The turmoil in public health, with numerous strikes by doctors and nurses in various counties, erodes the gains made in entrenching devolution.

Whereas the system has been lauded for shifting resources from the centre to foster development in the counties, health services have taken a beating.

Health Cabinet Secretary Cleopa Mailu, while recognising the right of medical workers to belong to unions, is also faulting them for failing to ensure that basic services are provided even when they picket.

He has a point, but what would he expect in a situation where doctors and nurses go for months without their pay and allowances and they have been denied deserved promotions?

The Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists’ Board and the Kenya National Union of Nurses have a duty to fight for their members’ rights.

It is, therefore, unfair to accuse them of “doing more harm than good”. They are a platform through which health workers make genuine demands.

And they have not broken the law by calling strikes after following the right channels.

Even Dr Mailu has conceded that the counties were not adequately prepared to run this vital docket.

The ministry and the unions must engage in more constructive negotiations. But greater national government involvement is required to fix the ailing sector.