- The Chairperson of the Council of Governors (CoG), Anne Waiguru, has called upon the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) to reconsider their planned doctors' strike, emphasizing the need for sensitivity to the current economic challenges facing the nation.
- Waiguru pledged the CoG's commitment to finding amicable solutions to the grievances raised by the medical practitioners.
- Additionally, Chairperson Waiguru proposed a partnership formula to set aside a special fund for health worker training, further strengthening the capacity-building efforts in the country.
The Chairperson of the Council of Governors (CoG), Anne Waiguru, has called upon the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) to reconsider their planned doctors' strike, emphasizing the need for sensitivity to the current economic challenges facing the nation.
Speaking at the launch of the County Health Workers Scholarship Scheme on Tuesday, Waiguru urged the medical professionals to prioritize the lives of Kenyan citizens and to engage with stakeholders to address their concerns.
"While the Council of Governors appreciates the rights of medics, we also urge them to protect the lives of citizens as entrenched in the constitution," Waiguru stated.
Waiguru emphasized the financial strain on the nation, highlighting the substantial debts inherited and the burden of maintaining healthcare facilities.
She pointed out that the current demands for salary increases were out of sync with the economic realities caused by international debt policies.
The government's primary focus, she explained, was to ensure the nation's recovery from this cycle of debt.
Moreover, the timing of the planned strike raised concerns for Waiguru.
She expressed that the strike action coincided with the planning for the Mega Universal Coverage launch by the devolved units, potentially damaging the public's perception of the health sector.
Waiguru pledged the CoG's commitment to finding amicable solutions to the grievances raised by the medical practitioners.
During the event, Chairperson Waiguru stressed the importance of building the capacity of county health workers to offer specialized services.
She noted the critical role of well-trained healthcare personnel in reducing child and maternal mortality rates and achieving Universal Health Coverage.
Quoting data from the 2022 Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS), Waiguru underlined the decline in under-5 mortality rates and infant mortality rates but also emphasized that Kenya still faced preventable child and maternal deaths, partly due to a shortage of pediatric sub-specialists.
To address this gap, the County Health Workers Scholarship Scheme, a collaborative effort between the CoG, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the Kenya Pediatric Association (KPA), will award scholarships to 400 healthcare workers to receive training in pediatric specializations.
These training programs will be conducted at selected institutions, including Kenyatta National Hospital, Gertrude’s Children Hospital, Agakhan University, University of Nairobi, and Moi University.
Chairperson Waiguru expressed her appreciation for the program, acknowledging its potential to improve health service delivery.
She also thanked the partnering organizations and academic institutions for their support in making this training initiative possible.
In closing, Waiguru called for a comprehensive approach to address communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, and injuries, recognizing the increasing burden of non-communicable diseases in recent years.
“We also need to ensure that our programs address the triple burden of disease - communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases and injuries," Waiguru noted.
She highlighted the success of devolving healthcare in expanding the pool of qualified health workers across the country and improving their equitable distribution.
“Between 2016 and 2021 for example, the total number of health workers in counties improved by 61 per cent from 59,726 to 96,453. In addition to this, the distribution across Kenya also improved, as county governments executed customised strategies to attract, develop and retain high quality healthcare workers.” Said the COG Chair.
Despite significant progress, Chairperson Waiguru acknowledged remaining gaps, such as the need for palliative care in cancer treatment and improved access to HIV programs for children.
She reiterated the CoG's commitment to enhancing human resources in the health sector to ensure affordable and quality healthcare for all Kenyan citizens.
Additionally, Chairperson Waiguru proposed a partnership formula to set aside a special fund for health worker training, further strengthening the capacity-building efforts in the country.
The launch of the scholarship scheme was attended by various dignitaries, including Governor Muthomi Njuki, Cabinet Secretary for Health Susan Nakhumicha, Vice President for EASA-CHAI Gerald Macharia, government officials, and members of academia from various institutions.