The Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) has called for the transfer of health services back to the national government to enhance quality of medical care in the country.
KNUN Deputy General Secretary Maurice Opetu said it was evident that county governments were unable to effectively manage the sector.
He pointed out the human resource function for the sector was on its deathbed with majority of health workers across the 47 counties demoralised.
This, coupled with lack of facilities and medical supplies, he said has made it difficult for health workers to offer quality services.
The scenario, he added, posed a threat to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Universal Health Coverage (UHC) programme since there lacked uniformity and standards in the services being offered.
“How can UHC be achieved when health workers in Kisumu are on strike while those in Turkana are working yet we are in the same country?, he posed.
Speaking at the new Nyanza Regional Headquarters building in Kisumu where he led nurses in a protest over delayed salaries, Opetu said the union presented the proposal to the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) and Punguza Mzigo initiative for the matter to be discussed at the national level.
“We want them to call us as key stakeholders so that we can have a discussion on how best to resuscitate the health sector,” he said.
If the health must remain with counties, he said a Health Service Commission (HSC) must be established to handle human resource matters for health workers.
This, he said, would enhance uniformity within the sector and end the incessant wrangles between the union and county governments.
Opetu who is also the KNUN Kisumu branch secretary said nurses in the area who are on go slow will not report back to work until their July and August salaries are paid.
The go slow which has brought on board doctors, Clinical officers and laboratory technicians has paralysed operations at all public health facilities in the area.
A spot check carried out by KNA at Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral and Teaching Hospital (JOORTH) showed services had been grounded with only NGOs offering HIV/Aids services and Cancer palliative care in operation.
Patients who sought treatment at Kisumu County Hospital (KCH) were forced to leave since there was no medic on sight.
Last week, County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of finance Nerry Achar assured all county workers that their July salaries were being processed.
According to Opetu, the county government issued a commitment letter to the nurses promising to pay the July salaries by end of last week, but so far it has not been done.
“We are now making fresh demands. We shall not accept a one month salary. We want salaries for July and August paid at once before we can resume work,” he said.
By Chris Mahandara