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PUSETU issues strike ultimatum over health sector woes

20 August 2014, 19:01 Samuel Kisika

Nairobi – The Kenya Public Servants Trade Union (PUSETU-K) has given the National Government 14 days to resolve challenges the devolved Health sector is experiencing under county governments' management failure to which the Union will conduct a national strike.

PUSETU Secretary General, Charles Mukhwaya said the government is doing too little to resolve problems facing the sector under county governments’ management and affirmed that the Union fully supports  health care providers' boycott over salary delay.

“PUSETU has consulted other relevant trade Unions and we hereby give the government 14 days to resolve challenges facing the Health sector. If the government does not resolve the Health sector problems, we will call upon all members to put down their tools in support of our brothers in the Health sector,” said Mukhwaya.

He said the health sector should be under the national government’s management and that PUSETU fully supports the call for referendum for health workers to include the formation of an independent Health Service Commission (HSC) on its agenda.

“Health, like other sectors such as Security and Education should be under the National Government. Since its devolution eight months ago, the sector has been facing the challenge of delayed payment of health workers and the government should know Kenyans want to access the essential services without inconveniencies,” said Mukhwaya.

The Chairman, Kenya Medical Practitioners Pharmacists and Dentists Union, Victor Ng’ani said governors should bear the responsibility of delaying the pay of health workers than falsely blaming the national government for untimely disbursement of funds to counties.

“If the problem of delayed payment of salaries to health workers only occurred in the month of July, we would agree with the governors’ blame on national government. Some new doctors working in counties have not been paid for over four months,” said Ng’ani.

“Last year, the national government gave counties KES 60 billion for the Health sector but the money has been spent on the governors’ foreign trips, purchasing of cars and building of their houses. Now a total of KES 200 million is needed to pay the workers but is unavailable,” he added.

Ng’ani alleged that sometimes counties reduce up to 20% from the health workers’ salaries while names of some doctors are excluded from the payroll yet they have families to raise and bills to settle. 

Ng’ani asserted that the governors’ rush to devolve the Health sector was “out of glutton” despite the counties' inadequate capacity to manage the sector.

“99% of Health problems would be solved if the sector’s Health Service Commission was in place. Doctors will support any referendum be it by Jubilee, CORD or Governors so long as their issues are included in the agendas,” said Ng’ani.

He faulted the Governors’ 10-point referendum agendas saying apart from seeking increased fund allocation to counties, other issues are of self-interest such as their access to grants and loans and demanding salary payments of over KES 1 million.  

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