Health workers’ strike is sign of myriad challenges

The ongoing health workers’ strike is merely the tip of the iceberg of the many challenges facing the sector.

Questions have been raised on the importance given to the health sector by both the national and country governments, especially relating to financing.

While the confusion on who should handle which resources meant for the health continues, the country continues to lose a huge number of professionals to other countries while Kenyans continue to miss this essential service.

Chapter 4 of the Bill of Rights provides for the right to adequate health which cannot be actualised in the current state where we lack clear policies and a legal regime to guide the sector.

The government, through Vision 2030, commits to improve the overall livelihoods of Kenyans; provide an efficient and high quality healthcare system through devolution of funds and management of healthcare.

This is not happening as smoothly as would be expected. The government promised to delink the Health ministry from service delivery in order to improve management of health institutions primarily by devolution of health management to communities and healthcare experts to counties and national hospitals.

This cannot be achieved within the current arrangement where health is already a devolved function, thus the national government has little say in the sector. Vision 2030 ideals cannot be realised without the involvement of the national government.

While respecting the rights of health workers to what the earlier collective bargaining agreement provided for, we need sobriety, for life is precious and once lost cannot be recovered.

We need a different approach including mobilising all arms of government and industry to address the problem.

In addition to the national government failing to provide 15 per cent of the national budget as committed through the Abuja Declaration, we have failed to establish a national health commission as provided for in the Constitution, thus escalating challenges in the sector.

The issue of decentralising and restructuring Kenya Medical Supplies Agency and streamlining buying of medical equipment and drugs by country governments is still opaque and open to abuse.