The high turnover of medics from health facilities in Taita-Taveta County has triggered alarm with Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) who allege the county has become a rich hunting ground for other counties who needed skilled medical staff to run facilities in other regions.
A KMPDU official for Coast Branch Dr. Kagona Gitau urged the health department in Taita-Taveta County to work proactively in retaining the skilled pool of medical labour currently in the county to enhance the quality of services being rendered to the public.
Speaking on Monday at Moi County Referral Hospital in Voi, the medic said it was depressing that the region was losing very competent staff who were getting better offers from many other counties. He added that such skill drains adversely affected the service delivery because it would take time and resources for such staff to be replaced.
“This region has become a fishing ground for hospitals that need qualified professionals to run their facilities. The county should work on retaining the medics to improve on services,” he said.
He cited that already, the county has lost a general surgeon who accepted an offer at Coast General in Mombasa. Another professional physician also quit the referral hospital after landing an appointment to run the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Coast General. A pediatrician who was also working at Moi County Referral Hospital quit to take up a role as a head of a program at the Ministry of Health headquarters in Nairobi.
Dr. Kagona said such skills needed to be retained as part of increasing accessibility to heath care and bolstering services to the local residents.
He further warned that the region still required more health professional to effectively serve the public. He said the county has one surgeon who was serving the four sub-counties.
He noted that other counties were offering competitive packages to doctors and urged the health department to improve their remuneration by implementing the conditions of the Comprehensive Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
A local KMPDU official Dr. Richard Wangai said there were still issues that needed to be addressed including having all medics under comprehensive insurance cover and giving them their allowances.
The officials however added that the doctors’ salaries were on time and the statutory deductions were being remitted on time.
However, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Health John Mwakima said there has not been any recent cases of staff exodus after the county government improved the welfare of the medics.
The CECM noted such cases were reported in the past years and disclosed that the health department was working on enhancing health services to residents.
He added that factors including preference on regions to work in and personal reasons contributed to medics leaving in the past years.
“We have not had our medics going to other regions recently. The county has committed to improving their welfare and we will work on retaining them for the benefit of our people,” he said.
By Wagema Mwangi