The Chairperson of the Council of Governors, Anne Waiguru, has appealed to the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union (KMPDU) to postpone their planned doctors’ strike while relevant stakeholders work to address their concerns. Speaking during the launch of the County Health Workers Scholarship Scheme on Tuesday, Waiguru urged medical professionals to consider the country’s current economic situation and prioritize the well-being of Kenyan citizens.
Waiguru emphasized that, while the Council of Governors acknowledges the rights of healthcare workers, they also need to safeguard the lives of citizens as mandated by the constitution. She highlighted the substantial debt burden inherited by the country and the challenges in maintaining healthcare facilities. According to her, the demands for a salary increase at this time do not align with the economic realities, given the country’s struggles with international debt policies.
The Governor expressed concerns about the timing of the strike, as devolved units were preparing for the launch of Mega Universal coverage, fearing that the strike could negatively impact the perception of the healthcare sector. She assured that the Council of Governors appreciates the vital roles played by medical professionals and pledged to explore amicable solutions to address their grievances.
Waiguru emphasized the transformation of the health sector through devolution and assured that the healthcare system is secure under county governments. She stressed the importance of training county health workers to provide specialized services, particularly in addressing child and maternal mortality rates.
The COG Chair pointed out that the scholarship scheme, a collaboration between the Council of Governors, the Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI), and the Kenya Pediatric Association (KPA), would provide scholarships to approximately 400 healthcare workers to receive training at selected institutions.
Waiguru acknowledged the success of devolving health services in rapidly increasing the number of qualified health workers across various cadres and their more equitable distribution throughout the country. She cited an example of Turkana County, which saw a significant increase in the number of medical officers from 10 to 61 since devolution.
The COG Chair concluded by emphasizing the importance of addressing the triple burden of disease, which includes communicable diseases, non-communicable diseases, and injuries, and thanked all stakeholders for their contributions to the training program.
The scholarship scheme launch event was attended by various officials, including Governor Muthomi Njuki, Cabinet Secretary for Health Susan Nakhumicha, Vice President for EASA-CHAI Gerald Macharia, government representatives, and members of academia from different institutions.