NAIROBI, October 24 – President Mwai Kibaki has instructed the Ministries of Finance and Health to expedite the review of salaries for nurses working in the public sector.,
He said the health sector was currently facing many challenges but pointed out that the government was determined to address the challenges systematically in order to ensure quality healthcare services to the people.
He said the government had already initiated the construction of 1,600 new health facilities between 2003 and 2007 mainly through the Constituency Development Fund.
"To improve on the staffing levels, the government will hire 1,600 nurses before the end of the year. We will also continuously work on improving their terms of service and working conditions in order to attract and retain the best," he said.
The President commended all staff in the Ministry of Health for their work and asked them to redouble their efforts in serving Kenyans pointing out that a healthy populace was the cornerstone of a working and caring nation.
The Head of State was speaking at Kenyatta National Hospital on Friday where he officially opened a Sh1.2 billion ultramodern accident and emergency facility constructed by the government with support from Spain.
He thanked the Government of Spain for its support and choosing Kenyatta National Hospital for its development support.
President Kibaki at the same time urged parliamentarians to urgently pass the counterfeit Bill 2008 currently before Parliament, in order to effectively deal with unscrupulous businessmen who sell drugs that are unsuitable for the public.
He said that the proliferation of counterfeit medicine had contributed to emergence of malaria parasites that had developed resistance to standard drugs.
"This has led to the use of alternative drug combinations that are more expensive," President Kibaki said.
The President said the government had initiated a programme for equipping health institutions to deal with the emergence of new disease patterns mainly caused by new habits in food consumption as well as changed lifestyles, especially in the urban centres.
He encouraged concerned Ministries and all stakeholders in the health sector to strengthen public campaign awareness programmes in order to enhance preventive measures.
The country is currently faced with a growing number of patients suffering from a TB strain that is resistant to some of the drugs in the market.
"Although the number is still small, there is an urgent need to institute proper management programmes, including better ways of detecting the disease before the cases overwhelm our health facilities," President Kibaki said.
He also urged the ministries of Public Health and Medical Services to lay more emphasis on preventative measures to reduce incidences of sickness within the population.
"In this regard as a nation we must not relent in the fight against HIV/Aids. The disease is a major threat to the economic and social strides we have made as a nation," President Kibaki said.
He said Kenyans should also make individual choices that will keep the disease away from their homes and communities, while still caring for those who are infected and affected.
He said the government had substantially increased funding to the health sector to cater for increased demand for healthcare services following increased revenue collection occasioned by the improved economy over the last five years.
Said President Kibaki: "This increased funding has largely been directed towards meeting the health needs of the most vulnerable groups in our society."
Citing the distribution of nine million nets to protect children and pregnant women against malaria and an increased full-immunisation rate from 57 percent in 2003 to 75 percent last year, President Kibaki said he was encouraged that the country’s health sector was moving towards achieving the targets agreed under the Millennium Development Goals.
The Head of State added that part of the country’s achievements in the health sector is that a million more women are today accessing family planning services compared to 2003.
In this regard, the President pledged his government’s continued support for the improvement of the health sector, saying the realisation of the country’s development agenda depended on the health status of the public.
He said some of the efforts the government had initiated towards improving the health sector include construction of new health facilities especially dispensaries and health centres in order to bring healthcare services closer to the people.
The President challenged the management of Kenyatta National Hospital to ensure that the facility maintains high standards of healthcare, saying it has a great influence on the management of other public hospitals in the country.
"I therefore wish to see a hospital that is a role model for our health institutions by providing high quality health care at an affordable cost," President Kibaki said.
He observed that many referral cases had at times overwhelmed the capacity of Kenyatta National Hospital, but added that the government had coming up with strategies to create more referral hospitals in the provinces.
The ambassador of Spain Nicolas Martin Cinto in his address pledged continued support to the Health sector in the country saying Kenyatta National Hospital was chosen for assistance as a model referral facility.
The Ministers for Medical Services Prof. Anyang Nyong’o said the Government was upgrading all Provincial General Hospitals to referral status to decongest the Kenyatta and Moi referral Hospitals.
Prof Nyong’o said that the Hospital’s appropriations in aid generation had improved with 40 per cent of the Hospital’s budget being funded from its own revenue.
His Public Health and Sanitation counterpart Beth Mugo supported government plans to improve terms and conditions of service for doctors and nurses saying retaining them was cheaper than training them to leave for greener pastures.