The State plans to hire 20,000 healthcare workers to bridge the doctor, nurse and midwife ratios as recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Health Cabinet secretary Susan Nakhumicha said the health workers would be absorbed over a three-year period subject to the availability of Sh21 billion required by the ministry to bring them on board.
The healthcare workers, Ms Nakhumicha said would be deployed to the county hospitals in a plan that is also aimed at attaining Universal Health Coverage set to be rolled out this year.
“We intend to employ 20,000 healthcare workers across all cadres in the next three years,” said Ms Nakhumicha in an interview with the Business Daily on Wednesday.
“This will be subject to the availability of Sh21 billion that we require to absorb them. Remember we found the coffers literally empty and we have to plan afresh.”
Kenya had a total of 189,932 health workers in 2020 with 66 percent being in the public sector and 58 percent, 13 percent and seven percent being nurses, clinical officers and doctors, respectively.
According to the WHO, the prescribed health worker density ratio is determined as 23 doctors, nurses and midwives for every 10,000 people.
However, data shows that the health workforce ratio in Kenya stands at 13 doctors, nurses, and midwives for every 10,000 people.
The data further shows that the country has a shortage gap of 3,238 medical officers, with the required number being at least 5,317.
There is also a deficit of 2,313 consultants, 1,070 dentists, 4,614 public health officers, 1,020 pharmacists, 4,167 pharm technologists, 3,970 specialist clinical officers and 9,301 general clinical officers.
The plan by the state to hire more healthcare workers comes at a time the Kenya Medical Practitioners, Pharmacists and Dentists Union (KMPDU) has been calling upon the national government and counties to employ 5,000 medical doctors to bridge an existing gap and boost services.
KMPDU said last month that a shortage of health workers has frustrated access to quality healthcare.
The Kenyan medics also complained that most health facilities are grappling with a shortage of medical staff, equipment and infrastructure.
Doctors have threatened to go on strike effective January 6, and part of their demand includes basic salary adjustments, creation of call rooms, posting of medical interns, employment of more doctors and provision of working tools are among the unmet grievances.