BY UPESINEWS REPORTER,NAIROBI,22ND FEB 2017-The national government will pay any salary rise given to doctors and nurses for only six months and then leave counties to take care of their health workers.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich said the money has been factored into a supplementary budget to pay nurses from January to June as officials wait for the doctors’ union to strike a deal.
The Council of Governors had raised concerns that there will be a crisis if money is not budgeted for a pay deal that would be reached in the ongoing negotiations.
Council chairman Peter Munya said counties and the national government had agreed that the money be set aside in this year’s budget.
Doctors officials converse/file
“Treasury was to take that burden and deduct the money from allocations to the Ministry of Health. If not reflected in the county allocations, there will be a crisis,” Mr Munya said.
He said though the salary review affects both levels of government, counties did not account for the salary adjustments in the current financial year, which ends in June.
“Health is a devolved function, but people don’t want to accept [that]. Seventy per cent of medical workers fall under counties.
“The employees are for governors,” Mr Rotich said after a meeting with the Senate’s Finance Committee in Nairobi on Wednesday.
He said the money would be disbursed as soon as it is clear how much is meant for counties.
“It is not that we are refusing to pay. The money is available but logistics is what is delaying the disbursements. Even if we delay, we shall pay in arrears,” Mr Rotich said.
The nurses ended their two-week strike in December after signing an agreement with county governments and the Ministry of Health.
Kenya National Union of Nurses secretary-general Seth Panyako signed the deal on behalf of the health workers after governors agreed to recognise their collective bargaining agreement.
Mr Rotich said counties must be appreciating that because health is a devolved function, their role is to manage the health personnel at the county level.
Governors have been downplaying the magnitude of the strike, saying the situation is not as serious as it is being portrayed because some doctors are working besides the clinical officers and nurses.
The doctors had raised concerns that frequent social media attacks on the doctors orchestrated by State House Director of Digital Communications Dennis Itumbi were hurting the talks.
Lawmakers have challenged President Uhuru Kenyatta to proactively deal with the matter instead of “allowing” senior officials at State House to make statements likely to compromise any progress that is being made.
“He must step forward and crack the whip to end this stalemate. [A] majority of Kenyans have no medical [insurance] and the faith-based hospitals operate just like the private ones,” Nyamira Senator Kennedy Mong’are said.
Mr Mong’are said both parties at the negotiating table should approach the matter with an open mind as opposed to relying on instructions from their bosses.
“We have information the ministry officials are approaching the negotiating table with firm instructions from State House, on the direction the talks should take,” said Mr Mong’are, who has said he is running for president.
Doctors had complained that governors had been frustrating them from outside their counties when hiring and approving their requests for further studies.
The Law Society of Kenya and Kenya National Commission on Human Rights are spearheading the court-initiated mediation process.