National gov’t may take over the health sector from counties

Health CS James Macharia
Health CS James Macharia

The national government now says it will not hesitate from reverting the health sector to national management if county governments do not resolve the ongoing health crisis as soon as possible.

The Health Cabinet Secretary Dr. James Macharia says the national government will not sit down and watch as the health sector plunges into a crisis, a statement that is likely to cause friction between the national and county governments.

“For two and half years, we have been tolerant but there is a limit. We cannot just sit there,” said CS Macharia.

“If there is a total collapse Kenyans expect us to intervene; Parliament has a role and Senate has a role.”

The sentiments by the Health CS come even as health workers from various counties continue to express their displeasure over delayed salaries.

The health workers from many counties including Nyeri and Nandi last week called off strikes that had paralysed operations in all public hospitals and healthy centres.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae, who is the Council of Governors Health Committee chair, had on Tuesday – while appearing on Citizen TV’s The Big Question programme – accused the national government of planning to revert the health sector.

“There is a plan to revert the health function back to the national government,” said Ongwae.

The health secretary claims the county governments have done little to correct the issues arising from their workers and it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that every Kenyan can access their right to health care, even if it means initiating a process to Amend Schedule 4 of the Constitution which makes health a devolved function.

“We have a responsibility to Kenyan people to solve the problem; the constitution wasn’t done for the heck of it. It was done to serve the Kenyan people,” added Dr. Macharia.

The county governments claim the agenda to fail them (county governments) begins with a delay in the disbursement of funds.

“They don’t send money on time and it is usually specific months; July and August,” noted Ongwae.

However, with a balance of 31 billion shillings in the county revenue fund, Macharia dismisses their accusations as a mere case of financial mismanagement.

“Delay in sending the funds that would mean all the 47 are in problems but you hear the same voices while other people are happy and working and they have no problems.”

The CS also says the governors should not blame the national government for delayed promotions, saying that basic information which could have been used to effect the promotions was handed over the counties in good time.

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