The national government has been blamed for the frequent health workers’ strikes.
The Senate Health Committee accused the government of being reluctant to come up with appropriate health policies to deal with challenges bedevilling the sector.
The committee’s chairman Wilfred Machage said the government has failed to develop policies to govern promotions, training and human resource management, which are to blame for the numerous strikes.
He said whereas Parliament is finalising on a Health Bill that is set to address most of the challenges facing the sector, the Ministry of Health has remained non-committal to the process. “In fact, the policies were supposed to have been in place before the Bill,” said Dr Machage, who is also the Migori senator.
“Reluctance by the national government to come up with these policies is an indicator that it is not ready to release health services and resources to the counties as required by law,” Dr Machage said.
The senator further said there is need for the country to agree that the Constitution be amended to address some of the grey areas that have derailed service delivery.
He said it is unfortunate that the country rushed to pass the Constitution saying it would be amended later, yet there were issues that required immediate attention to tackle conflicts.
“It is time to amend clauses that are not functional. Transition hitches and financial obligations were some of the issues that had not been properly explained,” Dr Machage told the Nation on phone on Monday.
Some legislators, mainly from the National Assembly, have recommended that health services be reverted to the national government to restore normalcy in hospitals.
But, Dr Machage said that though there was nothing wrong with devolving health, governors hurriedly demanded for the function before proper structures were put in place to ensure sustainability.
He said governors should be allowed to recruit medical staff based on their need and pay a certain minimum pay instead of the current situation where the national government still recruits on their behalf.
Dr Machage accused the government of failing to recognise that health is a devolved function and release all the funds meant to run county hospitals.
He said clinging to the funds meant for devolution and late disbursements of the funds pose threats to the success of the health sector. “The national government must respect the Constitution and accept that the health function is devolved. Holding onto funds will only worsen the situation,” he said.
Recently, Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said though monthly disbursements to counties can delay, all the funds allocated to the devolved units must be released by the end of a financial year.
But the Council of Governors chairman Peter Munya has claimed that more than half of funds meant for health remain at the national government yet it only deals with three referral hospitals.