Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya yesterday accused the national government and MPs of attempts to sabotage health operations in counties by denying them funds to pay salaries and finance operations.
Mr Munya claimed the plot is meant to portray counties as having failed to provide health care, and thus reverse the function from devolved units. He said the Treasury had withheld salaries for doctors in the counties for the last six months, a move that has forced health workers in a few counties to go on strike.
The governor said the crises in counties had been blown out of proportion as majority of them continue to pay health workers in spite of the delay in releasing payments to county governments.
“The Press has been doing a commendable job in highlighting issues that require urgent attention, especially in the health sector. The problem highlighted in Bungoma gives an indication of the problems counties are grappling with as they deliver health services with very limited resources,” Munya said at a Meru hotel.
He said the fact that a few counties had their doctors striking does not mean counties are unable to manage and deliver health care to Kenyans. “It shows we are operating for long periods without funds thus affecting efficiency of service. Six months’ worth of salaries are yet to be released to counties. That is why we are having problems paying salaries,” the Meru governor said.
He said it was unfortunate that with only two weeks left to the end of this financial year, the delay was yet to be explained. “It is actually surprising nine counties have been able to bring the cholera outbreak under control with minimal resources,” Munya said, adding that it is the national government’s responsibility to deal with epidemics.
He, at the same time, said the CoG had noted with concern calls to revert the health function to the national government, and said governors would oppose a health bill that is due for the second reading. “Calls to claw back the devolved health functions when the Health Bill is before Parliament shows MPs are acting in bad faith. In addition, the National Assembly is on record for fighting against allocation of more resources to counties. If they pass it, we will move to court,” he said.
He said counties had achieved a lot in terms of equipping hospitals, employing workers, and buying more medicine. “Counties have managed to install specialised equipment and thus reduced the number of patients to Kenyatta National Hospital while counties have improved maternal services by increasing maternity beds and theatres by 21 per cent and 142 per cent respectively, even with little funds,” he said.
Published: June 17th 2015. By Phares Mutembei
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