Calls for merger of health Ministries

April 2, 2009 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 2 – Public Health Assistant Minister Dr James Gesami has called for a merger of the two ministries handling the health sector to ensure quality service to Kenyans.

Mr Gesami said on Thursday that the split of the Ministry of Health into Public Health and Medical Services ministries had complicated the ability to offer health services in the country.

He called on President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to immediately merge the two ministries.

“We tend to work as separate ministries and therefore it is important that all of us work together. In fact I want to say that it was very wrong for the two principals (Prime Minister and President) to have split this ministry and we have advised that we must go back to one ministry,” Dr Gesami said.

Medical Services Permanent Secretary Professor James Ole Kiyiapi on the other hand said the separation of the ministries had created parallel roles for the same need.

“These services are linked. The mwananchi does not actually understand the difference and they don’t even care,” The PS said.

“The PS in the Ministry of Public Health and I have been working really hard to try and harmonise the operations of the two ministries but still we have to recognise that the ministries are linked, it’s really one organic thing and we are trying to run what actually might amount to parallel systems,” he added.

World Health Organisation Country Representative Dr David Okello had last month called for a merger of the ministries saying separation had frustrated donor aid.

The government officials were speaking at the opening of a Regional Health Strategy workshop where the need for E-medicine was emphasised.

“This means a health practice which is supported by electronic processes and communication. So when talking about E-health, you are talking about health care and what ICT has to offer in terms of health care development in this country,” Medical Services Assistant Minister Danson Mungatana said.

Mr Mungatana said the development of E-health would ensure patients were attended to without the doctors necessarily having to be physically present.

“If you are a patient in Garsen constituency and you want to get the best cardiologist to examine you, you do not have to make that journey from Garsen to Nairobi,” he explained.

The implementation of the E-health is expected to begin in July this year starting with the Provincial General Hospitals then move to district hospitals.

“This is going to support our referral system strategy. But it will be a step by step process; We have to first put the infrastructure in place then identify the critical services for what we require to utilise the E-health,” Professor Kiyiapi said.

“We have every year about Sh500 million for equipment and we can choose that instead of buying the normal equipment we invest in some specialised equipment which will help advance the whole strategy of E-health,” he added.


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