Governors, gov’t differ over ongoing health crisis

Governors, gov’t differ over ongoing health crisis

Council of Governors and the government have differed over the circumstances leading to the ongoing health workers’ strike in various parts of the country.

While the county bosses blamed the government for delaying to release funds for payment of nurses, the government through the Ministry of Health insisted that the funds had been released well in advance to settle the nurses’ demands.

Nurses in Nyeri, Nanyuki, Nakuru and Nandi have been on strike since last week over unpaid salaries and lack of promotions.

Speaking when they appeared before Parliamentary Committee on Health, the governors blamed the government for delaying to release the funds meant for nurses’ salaries though adding that the money was released a few days ago and nurses’ salaries settled.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae acknowledged that the strikes had been caused by delayed payment of salaries and lack of promotions, saying the impeding factor has been lack of funds in the counties.

“The Ministry of Health delayed to release money for health workers’ salaries. We just received the money a few days ago and have since paid the nurses,” said Ongwae.

Bomet Governor Isaac Ruto said there is need for the counties to reach an agreement with the ministry of health to clarify who bears responsibility for nurses who are still on training.

“The Ministry of Health should take over salaries for health workers while they are in training because county governments have no funds to cater for them at that level,” he said.

The governors, however, revealed that they had held meetings to discuss a way forward on the issue, saying they will look at the files of nurses who have worked for three years without promotion.

“The issue of promotions is a budgetary issue. We just received the files for promotion a month ago and are looking for the way forward,” said Ruto.

Speaking at a doctors’ conference in Nairobi, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia attributed mismanagement in county governments to the ongoing strikes.

“If governors learn to prudently manage finances and human resources in their counties, then these issues of strikes will not arise,” he said.

He called on governors to be accountable and ensure proper management of county funds.

“Governors must know that these resources belong to the people and they must be managed with utter responsibility.”

The governors claimed that nurses have resumed duty, except those in Nandi County, though reports indicate that operations in health facilities in parts of Nyeri are still paralysed due to the ongoing strike.

Despite the issue of nurses’ strike taking centre stage, the main agenda of the meeting was to discuss the Health Bill that is set to be tabled in Parliament.

Additional reporting by Jacque Maribe