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Healthcare unions issue govt with strike notice

05 November 2013, 21:28 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi - A total of 22 healthcare workers unions in the country have issued the government with a 21-day notice to reverse its unconstitutional rush of devolving the sector without involving stakeholders.

Dr.Sultan Matendechero, the Secretary General Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPPDU), said the government's failure to resolve the devolution of the health sector with stakeholders in 21 days will result in a boycott by healthcare services across the nation.

"Health workers are not opposed to devolution guaranteed in the New Constitution we voted for unanimously, but we are opposed to the manner in which the government is separately and unconstitutionally implementing the devolution process," said Matendechero.

"The constitution states clearly the involvement of the public and other stakeholders in devolution process but the government's rush of devolving the health sector without established structures like the Health Policy and Health Law for governance in counties can't work at all,"he added.

Matendechero said that so far the definition of National Referral Hospitals verses County Health Facilities does not exist,and the Transitional Authority is not mandated to define these facilities as witnessed currently.

He stated that County Government's Act 2012 provides for secondment of personnel function and not the government's transfer of employers without also giving an employee the opportunity to choose or accept new employment terms.

Matendechero said the government has not involved the unions and associations in the implementation process, he has resisted to divulge information on the progress by not responding to letters of request for information or appointment meetings, and resisted to give any feedback.

He warned that the government's inconsistencies in payment of salaries will result in frequent boycotts and strikes while the undefined transfer of health workers will result in massive resignation of personnel.

Dr. Seth Panyako, the Kenya National Union of Nurses (KNUN) Secretary General, said the government's defiance to resolve the health-workers' demands on devolving the sector in the given time then citizens should be timely aware that in January there will be no health structures across the nation.

"We call on the government to come out of hiding and settle the matter with health stakeholders constitutionally and procedurally because the process itself requires more time to put structures in place. It's not just a matter of allocating the sector KES 500million and expect the devolution to be effected immediately," said Panyako.     

The unions demanded for an immediate halt to the implementation of the health policy and enactment of the health bill for adequate stakeholder involvement and consultation, and reversal of unconstitutional establishment of directorates and divisions within MOH in absence of necessary legislation to run the health sector. They also demanded for an immediate establishment of health commission to oversee the transition of the health function to counties.

The unions' stakeholders said that the Health, Security and Education are key sectors that need not be devolved for better service delivery to all citizens regardless of residence.





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