Devolution of healthcare has been one of the biggest headaches for the counties since their inception.
This is so and yet the necessity of having counties take charge of this major responsibility is not in dispute.
It is meant to ensure that health services are taken right to the grassroots for the benefit of the majority of Kenyans.
The public health sector has, however, been dogged by frequent strikes by medical staff, including doctors and nurses.
The doctors’ strike lasted several months, as did that of nurses. And although some calm now generally prevails, there is still some disquiet.
Evidently, requiring the counties to shoulder a burden they were ill-prepared for was an ambush. It is, therefore, not surprising that another row is brewing.
This one revolves around the need for doctors’ specialised training.
The counties are reluctant to let doctors go for postgraduate training despite the acute shortage of specialists.
And it is not difficult to see why: They do not want to continue paying staff who are away from their stations.
In a letter to Health Cabinet Secretary Sicily Kariuki, the county governments have confirmed that they are reluctant to release doctors for postgraduate training.
The Council of Governors wants the ministry to pay the salaries of the 1,153 doctors, some Sh280 million a month.
The Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) says only 23 of the 165 doctors who applied for postgraduate studies this year were cleared.
This is a matter that needs to be quickly resolved.
While there is a compelling reason to consider having the national government take back the provision of healthcare portfolio from the counties, a more immediate solution would be for it to take charge of postgraduate training and directly employ all the specialists.