, NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 21 – Public Health Minister Beth Mugo on Tuesday rejected calls to merge her ministry with that of Medical Services, claiming it was part of a political smear campaign to portray her ministry as under performing.
Mrs Mugo admitted that there were overlaps between the ministries in the carrying out of their functions but she insisted there is no confusion in her ministry.
The Minister advised the media and politicians against playing politics with the issue of health claiming that the battle was a manifestation of rivalry between the coalition partners.
She said both two ministries co-existed well during the KANU administration under Professor Sam Ongeri and Amukowa Anangwe.
The Minister argued that her ministry was essential in the delivery and provision of health.
Mrs Mugo said that her ministry had made important milestones in shifting the focus of government and donor spending from curative to preventive health strategies.
“Public health has been acknowledged all over that it is the surest way to deliver health to communities; curative is very important because people are hurting and they must be attended first.”
“If we neglect public health there will be more and more diseases which will be more costly to treat; the World Health Organization have been pushing government to adopt this trend,” she stated.
She was speaking after receiving six vehicles and 16 motorcycles from UNICEF in support of the Government/UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Programme.
Mrs Mugo said her Medical Services counterpart Anyang Nyong’o had on three occasions snubbed invitations to discuss the overlaps and problems affecting their ministries.
“I have invited my medical services counterpart to a meeting on not less than 3 times, but despite the fact that we are in the same building we have been not been able to meet because he says he is busy,” she said.
The programme aims to increase access and raise awareness on the importance of safe drinking water and sanitation as well as appropriate hygiene; especially hand washing.
UNICEF Kenya Country Representative, Dr. Olivia Yambi, said more than 1.3 million Kenyans will gain access to safe water and sanitation.
The Government of Netherlands has donated $ 41 million to the Government and UNICEF’s Water and Sanitation Programme.
Dr Yambi cited that diseases related to unsafe water and poor hygiene contribute to 20 percent of deaths among children under five years of age. The support covers a five-year period, from January 2008 to December 2013, in selected arid, semi arid and flood prone districts.
This initiative will accelerate the drive towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals on water and sanitation and help reduce infant and child deaths due to water borne diseases and poor hygiene.